Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 266
Comments: 1

There were dozens of people in the room. I was the last one to leave. One of the orange givers had run away from the ramp gleamings and pretending I didn’t care was difficult.

 “There aren’t enough pickles in the kingdom,” she whispered.

“What do pickles have to do with anything?” I asked.

“Well, you’ll just have to wait and find out, won’t you? When tomorrow gets here, we’ll all be running for the aftermath, but that’s okay. I have bread crumbs for the ride home.”




I was tired. Garbo, my best friend, had been asking a lot of questions about things that didn’t make sense. Why did Bo care so much about what I’d been doing yesterday? We had spent most of the morning together and then when the lights went out at work, she said she had errands to run, and I told her I wanted to hang out at the library for a while. What I did after that was really none of anybody’s business. Not even hers. I wasn’t always so guarded, but things have changed.

A lot.

And, the Pickle Man is not happy about it.

I’ve been watching Sarah Carol and Bo. They work in my café, Renderee’s Rowdy Root Celler we call it, but the real name is Renderee’s Restorative Restaurant, named after me by my dad a long time ago when everything was a whole lot more pleasant, peaceful and prosperous. Yes, I like alliteration, doesn’t everyone? And, yes, it is located in a root cellar. It’s much easier to control the temperature underground. My name, Renderee, was made up by my mother who said it had something to do with the word tender and trendy and I’m not sure I follow her logic, but she removed the t and added the er because she thinks that names with only two syllables are tacky. That’s my mama. Call her goofy if you like, but I think she’s a hoot. Her brain has it’s own very special distinctive pied-piperish melody, and I have enjoyed dancing to it for as long as I can remember. From what I’ve been told, although I’ve never traveled too far from home, it’s considered an aberration in other countries for people to have audibly musical personalities.

They’re just jealous.

Sarah Carol likes to think she could run the place better than any of us. Bo, knows better. Sarah Carol is a natural organizer, but her people skills are shaky. Ask her a question, any question --- and she’ll give you a straight-up-truth-you’d-rather-not-know kind of answer. Sometimes it’s funny, most of the time it’s awkward; occasionally it’s disastrous. It’s no secret that she’d rather be in Abersupper, but nobody will ever take her there, and it’s too far to skattle. We all have our crosses and being stuck with her is ours, and she probably feels the same way about us.Maybe we are her biggest burden and don’t even know it. I’m pretty sure I should work on being more compassionate since I used to be much more tender-hearted before the angry wars happened. That’s when friends we grew up with, and even family members took sides and started saying things like, “I have decided that I need to adjust my priorities and you will no longer be included in most of my activities, but I do most sincerely love you.”

Really? Okay. Whatever.

I’m not sure what my biggest burden is. Maybe it’s being so sure of myself that I don’t remember to hide my confidence. I guess not too many people will give half a yodel about a know-it-all like me, but the other thing is – I don’t really want to have friends that I have to wear a mask around. Maybe you know what I mean. It’s so much easier not having to keep track of all the pretending stories that accommodate the unreal identity we put on to be more likable. I know a lot. I’m prideful. It can be obnoxious. Some people love me anyway.

Thursday was an especially troubling day. The sun was blazing dry desert hot by 10, and then it was dripping humid for about 2 hours when the clouds rolled in. By dinner time there were rumbles trolling around the mountains, foggy spirits looking for ghoulish playmates. The thermostat exploded just like it did last year when the temperature dropped over 100 degrees in about 5 minutes. I had just set the table for what was going to be a very memorable (at least I hoped so) evening when we all ran shivering in the same direction. Thank goodness or thank the good Lord or thank my lucky charms but no matter what direction my gratefulness should travel, I was one microsecond away from calamity when the emergency heat whooshed on just as my hand reached for the thermostat. If it had not kicked in like that – well, I might have lost my hand. It might have frozen to the switch, and the emergency responders would have had to cut it off, bit by bit, finger by finger. We live in a brutal world, but we’re getting used to it. Sort of.

The weather isn’t our worst problem. We’ve learned to adjust to the bizarre fluctuations and most of the time our gizmos and gadgets take care of it. But, I was worried about how the thermostat malfunctioned, so I had it repaired – at least, I hope it’s fixed. The near disaster reminded me of how fragile we are. It’s a good thing that the crazy weather only happens for brief periods of time, and we usually have advance warnings giving us plenty of time to prepare.

Oh well, I’m just happy it’s Sunday so I can catch my breath and get off my feet for a while. We used to go to church, but nobody I know is brave enough to do that now.

Anyway, thinking about being fragile made me think of Sarah Carol, so I made a call.

“Hey Sarah Carol, have you ever heard of the Pickle Man?

“No, Renderee, I’ve never heard of the Pickle Man. (laughing) But, if he’s cute, how about settin’ me up?”

“I’m not trying to hook you up with him. His real name is Ebenezer Stooper, and he wants to meet you.”

“Yeah, that’s real funny, and my real name is Aloysius Laplolly, and you probably didn’t know that I own all the pickle jars, so I’m not surprised “pickle dude” wants to chat me up. Wanna go shopping in Throwbody tonight?”

“No, I don’t want to go shopping, and you really have to meet the Pickle Man.”

“Um, yeah, okay, but who is he and why is he called Pickle Man?”

“Can you come over? It’s too hard to explain over the phone.”

“Okay, sure. Give me about an hour. See ya. Bye.”

“Great. Bye.”



I used to live in Abersupper. Now I live in Ganderville, which is a much bigger town with all the modern conveniences we’ve come to rely on. Isn’t it interesting how little time we have for a personal life now that we are so well armed with an overwhelming number of time-saving machines? I was born in Throwbody, which is up north in the mountains. You have to be pretty doggone tough to live in Throwbody, but my mother loved it, and my father loved her, so they stayed there as long as they could before it got to the point where they just couldn’t handle the challenges. Bears in the kitchen, wolverines jumping at you when you opened the door, that kind of thing. Mom called it fun even with all the hospital visits, but eventually Dad tricked her into moving by taking her on vacation and secretly selling the house, so there was no place to go back home to. She was pissed that he forged her signature, but she knew he was right. Even Mom knew it was time to slow down. She’s still kind of nuts, but at least we don’t freak out every time she calls us now.

Abersupper is quiet. Some of the trees are taller than mountains. Lilacs don’t like to bloom there, but the oleander and squash drippers are lush, and poets can’t get enough of the annual festivities. So romantic. Moonlit dances, butterflies carving the air into colorful shapes, the downward glow of umbrella trees. My mother never liked it there. It was too calm for her. She was a hillbilly at heart; Scottish roots, mountain laurel in her dreams. All the lovey-dovey romantic stuff – not her cup of tea. But, I understand why Sarah Carol wants to go there. She thinks I care. I don’t. Not even a little. Well, maybe a little. I’m not entirely heartless.

“Sarah Carol! I thought you’d never get around to answering the phone!”

“Oh, Renderee. You’re just about the only person in the universe who understands me.”

Understands you? she thought to herself.

 “Okay, SC, I need to tell you about the Pickle Man and why he wants to see you.


Submitted: May 01, 2019

© Copyright 2022 Tamela Maxim. All rights reserved.


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