Tag Archives: Morticia

2.35 Lillith vs. Morticia

Daily Harvest - Halloween mockupjpeg

(Yeah, the Halloween mock-up looks just as silly in my mind’s eye as I thought it would!)

Wood, knowing the answer to my question, finished the rest of his beer in one long pull and left to fetch another. 

I’d texted him the news the moment Leo and I parted ways in the Rusty Hinge’s parking lot. The string of emojis he sent back mirrored my own thoughts on the matter. 

On the other hand, my cousins, close to succumbing to sugar comas, only showed a flicker of interest in my intelligence. Though in fairness, their comatose states were enhanced by twenty-five minutes of sprinting from pillar to post and beer. 

Fortunately, nothing, including Morpheus’s sweet embrace, could tamp down Dwight’s professional training and natural curiosity. 

Dwight (visibly forcing the word out): “Who?”

Lounging on the veranda’s railing, as was my custom, I was perfectly placed to watch their reactions in the dim light radiating from the open kitchen door – only Uncle was inscrutable. Sitting, as was his habit, in the comfy chair at the farthest end of the porch fully engulfed in shadows.

Me: “The Brownie Stealing Bench, Josie Reville.”

A collective groan, plus a few choice words, filled the air (the Mynah birds were out of earshot ). 

During the ensuing silence, due to everyone taking a healthy slug from their bottles, I’d have bet money that my relations were replaying a dusty old memory starring Josie and her pack of sycophants. (I wasn’t the only one she’d used to sharpen her poisonously honeyed tongue, just the first of us to ping her radar.)

A disturbingly loud crash from the kitchen treat makers and Susan’s subsequent shout of ‘everyone’s fine’ broke the spell my words had unfortunately cast over the party.

Jesse (sounding confounded): “Did Lucas open a hell-mouth under Rye to lure her back?”

Me (giggle snorting): “No, she’s not vying to reign over hell, Western Regional Bank made her their Chief Loan Officer.” 

Dwight (absently): “Don’t discount the whole Queen of Hell thing entirely.”

Tad: “She’d make a good Lilith though, using her position in the bank to corrupt the hearts of men. Oh! If it helps, we could change your nickname to Sabrina. You already have that luscious red coat, and if you adopted a black cat and named him Salem, you’d really be cooking with gas.”

Carefully backing out of the screen door, Wood reemerged from the kitchen, his hands occupied by a tray ladened with the next round of brown bottles, which we proceeded to helpfully lighten for him. Only Dwight and Uncle declined seconds.

Wood (chiming during the distribution of beer): “Never gonna happen, Morticia Addams would never allow an upstart like Lilith steal her crown.”

Me (laughing): “Plus, I look terrible as a blonde.”

Wood: “That too.”

Sealing our complete agreement, which may or may not be rooted in an unfortunate episode of summertime boredom and an old bottle of peroxide, we clinked our bottles together. 

Jesse (stretching his legs out): “Hate to rain on your parade, but isn’t Lilith literally biblical in origin? Morticia Addams is just a shade over eighty. Lilith would wipe the floor with her.”

Tad (happily diving into the debate): “Wrong part of the multiverse. The original Archie comic version, Madam Satan, is two years younger than Morticia. Lilith, from Netflix’s Chilling Adventures, is less than three years old. Making Morticia the hands-down favorite in a face-off!”

Jesse: “The story is three-ish years old I grant you, but in the Chilling Adventures, Lilith was the second person ever to walk the earth and was literally taught magic by Lucifer. No dice beans and rice.” 

Winding up for the defense of his stance, Tad took a deep and audible breath.

Knowing from prior experience, their bickering over pop culture spin on for hours without any outside help. (And I knew Robbie, who’d just joined us from the kitchen, mug of chocolate in hand, would be unable to resist throwing Dr. Who’s Missy into the mix.) I decided to track back to an earlier point in the conversation. 

Me (looking at an inattentive Dwight): “How exactly can Josie become Queen of Hell?”

It took Wood tapping him on the shoulder before he resurfaced, requiring me to repeat my question.

Dwight (raking his hands thru his hair): “While I was covering the Grindle trial for the paper, I overheard a rumor…”

Wood (grinning): “That Rye really is built on a hell-mouth?”

Dwight (missing Wood’s comment he shook his head): “No, though that might make interesting copy for Halloween, I heard Lucas might be retiring soon.”

Robbie (leaning against the rail next to me): “So? He’s about the right age, isn’t he?”

My cousins reflected a similar sentiment back to Dwight. Wood and I exchanged uneasy looks.

Dwight (clearly still having only half his mind on our conversation): “That’s what I thought too. Which is why it seemed odd that the person repeating the rumor was warned they’d lose their job if word got out they blabbed. So I did some digging in the Harvest’s archive. Do you know how Lucas Reville got his start on the city council?”

We all shook our heads in unison.

Dwight: “He took over his Uncle’s seat midterm. Apparently said Uncle caught scarlet fever as a child and developed a significant heart murmur later in life. After it was discovered and on the advice of his doctor, he retired immediately. Making use of a little known bylaw that allowed a family member to assume his post mid-term.” 

Tad (making the connection Dwight laid out): “At least if Josie was crowned the Queen of Hell, she’d be out our hair, do you really think……..”

The niblings, hopped up on cayenne and chocolate, unintentionally cut Tad’s appalled question off by exiting the kitchen en masse. Jesse and Tad’s lot set about pleading their case to sleepover at Uncle and Aunt Pearl’s house while Susan and Dylan’s two started entreating Robbie, Ian, Dwight, Wood, and I to camp out with them in the living room. 

2.34.b Olly Olly Oxen Free

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(This was the lure Aunt Pearl placed before us to get my cousins and I to comply with her ‘photo op’!)

Tad was slicing himself a second piece of cake when I stole into the kitchen, returning my puckish grin he saluted me with a wave of the cake knife. Easing open the screen door, Squiddy and I slipped onto the back porch and quietly shut it behind me. Tucking in next to Wood, who’d stationed himself in the patio chair next to the dinner bell, he handed me a beer he’d had waiting at his elbow.

Wood (softening his voice): “You’re losing your touch Morticia, twenty minutes?”

Me (twisting the cap off my beer): “The small fry were harder to fool than my cousins.” 

Speaking of those five adorable lookouts, they’d shifted from shouting out hints to peppering my cousins with questions. 

Do you see her dad? / Uncle Ian, do you want to borrow my flashlight? / Did the blueberry bushes just move? I’m pretty sure I saw it move! / Can I try looking? Please! / Have you ever caught Auntie Morticia dad? 

Uncle (sounding amused): “Once or twice.”

Dylan (over his shoulder, his eyes still scanning the yard): “More than that!”

Me (blandly): “Not since we were twelve, and I figured out no one cool wears neon.”

My reply sent a laugh rippling across the line of lookouts – because both Dylan and Ian’s frolicking kitten t-shirts sported a neon hue – pink and orange, respectively. A minute ticked by, then two, but none of the kids registered who’d made the funny, which sent a corresponding ripple of stifled chuckles thru the adults seated behind them. About the time I figured the only way they’d work out I was literally standing under the dinner bell was by ringing it, my youngest niece grew bored with her peripheral participation in the game and turned around.

Standing still as a statue, I watched Ruby’s eyes wander down the line of dim adult silhouettes until they landed on Aunt Pearl – three seats away from me.

Ruby (trying a parental end-run): “Grandma, can we make special coco now?”

Aunt Pearl (a smile in her voice): “It’s a little late, dear, you need to ask your papa if it’s okay.”

Intent on securing a cup of cayenne laced dark chocolate coco, her gaze slid right over me and on to Tad standing just inside the screen door on my left. The other kids perked their ears up but continued to keep their eyes aimed forward.

Ruby (squinting): “Papa, can I have some special hot coco?”

Tad (trying hard to contain a laugh): “After you find your Aunt Morticia.”

Ruby (expressively exhaling): “But it’s taking forever! And dad won’t let us help…”

Smothering a wide grin, I leisurely raised my hand towards the leather strap attached to the bell’s clapper, blocking her view of Tad’s face for a few seconds. When she succumbed to a fit of giggles, I knew my hint had been successful.

Ruby (pointing at me still tittering): “Now, can I have some special coco?”

Aunt Pearl (getting up): “You can be my sous chef.”

This appointment instantly redirected the other nibling’s attention off the backyard and spawned a chorus of protests. (Aunt Pearl’s helper gets to lick the pan – after it’s cooled sufficiently.)

‘Why does she get to be the sous chef?’ / ‘She hasn’t found Auntie Morticia’ / ‘That’s not fair!’

Ruby (thrilled at the chance to cover herself in glory): “Oh yes, I did! She’s right there.”

Pandemonium broke out on the back porch as the kids followed Ruby’s pointer finger and realized they’d been outfoxed. The adults split a seam, the lookouts started hollering for my cousins, and I rang the bell ending the game. 

By the time my cousins slowly rambled across the lawn, joining the rest of us on the porch, the nieces and nephews were in a full-tilt-tizzy; trying to figure out how I’d snuck past them, how long I’d been standing behind them and why Squiddy covered in fir needles….Aunt Pearl, heading off the inquisition, brought a bit of peace to the proceedings by herding the niblings inside to help her concoct the hot cocoa. 

My cousins didn’t bother to ask how I’d outflanked them – the liberal distribution of dirt and detritus on Squiddy, and I told the story. Though they did give me a series of high-fives, attagirl’s and a few friendly pats for Squiddy. (I did divest myself of my cephalopod friend, draping him over the bracket holding the bell, I needed a reprieve from his woolly magnificent.)

So after a quick detour to collect our promised slices and scoops (Wood and Uncle following us in for their second helping of dessert and Tad for his third), we regrouped back on the veranda and started talking about this and that. All of us keeping a half an ear on the din emanating from the kitchen – the clanging of pots and pans, opening and closing of cupboard doors, smacking of spoons against the rim of metal bowls, laughing and chatter – as the kids prepared their treat.

After a short strolling down memory lane, namely other epic bouts of kick the can, we fell into a comfortable silence. 

Right up until I tossed a tiger into our midst.

Me (glowering at my beer): “You’ll never guess who I ran into the other night…”

1.6 Squirm

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When Wood’s six foot six frame squirms it signals different things for different people. For his Gran it means he’d bought her another gadget to make her life “easier” – she likes her smart phone, tolerates her smart luggage (a suitcase which follows her around like a puppy) and is plain suspicious of her “home assistant” powered by the internet. Laney eyes him dubiously when he surprises her with a trip – Barcelona, Paris, London, Malmo or a staycation – which heralds pub fare and soccer matches are in her future (she likes soccer just fine, but a romantic walk on Seine would add a nice variety – she thanked me when I pointed this out to him).

For me? This wriggle means Wood’s set me up on a blind date.

Again.

In his defense Wood always does great job in picking interesting, witty and charming men. If you are waiting for the “but” here it is; charming doesn’t mean sincere, witty doesn’t exclude vicious and interesting doesn’t mean classy. Six out of eight of my all time worst evenings come from Wood’s setups (and I am sure I don’t sparkle in my opposition’s memory either). So for the sake of my sanity, our friendship and the lives of the men of these disasters – I made Wood promise never to set me up with any more men of his acquaintance. Which was only extracted after I told him the story of my date with his dapper coworker Sebastian.

Sebastian thoughtfully included a cardio workout component into our date – moving forty-seven boxes of his ex-girlfriend’s possessions down two flights of stairs into a truck (his ex-girlfriend left for parts unknown twenty minutes after we arrived), unloading the truck again and distributing the boxes around her new apartment according to their labels. Sebastian then thoughtfully provided a meal which was also themed to our activity – pizza and beer. He then proceeded to eat the entire pie and drink a six pack in twenty minutes which caused him to curl up like a huge hedgehog in Tiffini’s living room and pass out. He did regale me with anecdotes from his travels, but since we weren’t eating dinner in a little cafe, listening to jazz and drinking fabulous coffee (as he had with Tiffani) it was hard to relate.

Okay, I can laugh about it now, but I absolutely flabbergasted at the time.

While glaring at my friend (who was doing his level best not to make eye contact), I offered up a hasty prayer to any god who would take an interest – hoping against hope – that Wood’s sudden imitation of an eel stemmed from an acrobatic audition he’d set up for us with Cirque du Soliel after dinner. Or perhaps we were interviewing for a place in a prestigious rodeo clown school – they have those right? Maybe we were receiving our armaments for the tri-state laser tag tournament? But his wriggling butt and wringing hands told another tale, “Wood, you promised!”.

His eyes darted towards the front of The Fungus House and apparently found his salvation there since his faced cracked into a wide smile, “Beatrice, over here!”

Following his smile I saw a strawberry blonde in a three piece indigo colored suit beelining in our direction.

Okay, maybe I’m wrong?

1.3 Guaranteed Fun

Since my – definitely not day drinking – butt was firmly planted on the couch contemplating what precisely I was going to do next (and starting to feel rather blue about it), Dourwood’s timing was impeccable.

Dourwood: “Laney’s out of town and I need to eat!”

Me: “The Rusty Hinge?”

Dourwood: “Nope a new place, The Fungus House!”

Me: “The Fungus House?”

Dourwood: “Yup!”

Me: “Fungus.”

Dourwood: “It has five stars.”

Me: “Out of 100?”

Dourwood: “No, out of five!”

Me: “I am hung up on the word FUNGUS.”

Dourwood: “You’ll have Fun. I promise.”

Me: “You are Guaranteeing the Fun? Last time I was promised Fun I got 8 stitches.”

Dourwood: “No equipment needed except a fork and spoon. Chances of stitches low. No knives on premises.”

Me:

Dourwood: “I am buying!”

Me:….

Dourwood: “Come on, Morticia.”

Me: “Kk. When?”

As a newly minted member of the unemployed – a free dinner – even fungi adjacent – couldn’t be turned down (maybe it won’t be that bad?). More worrisome was the promise of fun.

Wood and I had mastered Fun years ago. However I learned the promise of it (coupled with Laney’s out-of-town status) should be accompanied by wary restraint.

I am not overreacting.

This Guarantee has lead to plunging off of bridges wearing bungee cords, acting out parts in a live version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, an ill advised branding (yes the hot poker kind), a wedding officiated by Elvis (him, not me – how he got Laney to agree I am not sure – she was sober, I checked) and the last time he got us an audition with the circus (hence 8 stitches from an unfortunate knife trick – and Ringling Brothers has since closed – so I would now be idle either way). While all of these umm…activities were fun and memorable, I am not sure my current mental state could take this unique type of diversion.

On the other hand it would get me out of the cottage and Wood is much better with support than my Aunt – so provided no knives, wheels or lines were involved things, I am cautiously optimistic things should go swimmingly.

Fortunately me and my dancing shoes we didn’t have to sober up tonight – Wood planned on going out on Saturday. So I could figure out what safety gear I could wear under my clothes without adding lumps in unusual places.

A bit of precaution never hurt anyone.