Chapter 3: Chapter 2-In Which Flo Eats Pancakes And Gets A Doll

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 156
Comments: 2

Chapter Two

“Hey, wake up.” Someone shook my shoulder. “It’s time to wake up, Flo.” I groaned and stretched reluctantly, awareness only just beginning to take control.

“I had the freakiest dream last night!” I said as I sat up, my voice croaky. “I dreamt that I died and came to the Underworld and joined a Mafia gang made up of non-Italians. Isn’t that weird, Guy?” I groggily opened my eyes and turned to face who I thought to be my little brother. Instead I saw Zeke, one dark eyebrow raised and his head cocked to the side.

“What are you talking about?” My cheeks burst into flames, and I had to resist the temptation to crawl under a rock and never resurface.

“Well, um, you see, I-” He interrupted my nervous stuttering with a laugh and reached over to ruffle my mud-colored, tangled bed head. Somewhere on the inside, I cringed.

“Don’t worry about it, go-with-the-Flo,” he chuckled, smiling. “It’s no big deal. Besides, your presence is requested downstairs. We’re going shopping for you.”

“Shopping?” I rubbed some of the sleep from my eyes. “What for?” Zeke looked at me with that, ‘You really don’t know?’ face. I shrugged. “What?!”

“This room looks like a hospital room, and it’s giving me the heebie-jeebies to be in here, so you need to spruce it up. Secondly,” he picked up one of my tennis shoes and turned it over in his hands to examine it. “You have strange clothes. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself when you’re in a gang like ours. That’s why we’re going shopping.” I stuck my lip out in a pout. Why did Zeke always have to make such good points all the time?! I sighed and rolled out of bed, stiff as a board.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming. Just give me a minute.” I yawned and pulled on one of my tennis shoes. Zeke leaned against the dresser and began to whistle, while I looked all around for my other sneaker.

“How did you sleep?”

“Okay, thanks,” I turned to look at him and saw my shoe. “Can I have my tennis shoe back?” Zeke tossed it over, and I put it on.

“Was the bed okay? No one slept in this room before you got here, so we didn’t know if it would be comfortable or not.”

“No, it was fine, really. I appreciate it.” Zeke smiled, satisfied.

“Nifty. Now let’s stop beating our gums and head downstairs for breakfast; we’ve got to get going if we want to get anything. I know she doesn’t look like it, but Blanche eats almost as much as I do, and that’s something!” I chuckled, and Zeke and I shuffled down the stairs to the kitchen. The smell of bacon and coffee assaulted my nostrils viciously- I must confess, I enjoyed every second of that attack.

“Flo! Good morning!” Blanche stood from the table and smiled, dabbing at the corner of her mouth with a napkin. “What would you like to eat? We have six slices of bacon and three pancakes left. There’s also a whole pot of coffee, orange juice, or milk.” She bounced over to the kitchen and got out a plate. “That question goes for you too, Zeke.” Zeke gestured for me to go first, and walked into the kitchen to fix his plate himself. Reluctantly, I did.

“One pancake, three slices of bacon, and a cup of coffee, please.”

“Do you want your coffee black or with cream and sugar?”

“Black’s fine.” Zeke made a noise of disgust, and I looked at him. “What?”

“I can’t believe you drink your coffee plain! It’s so bitter-! How can you stand it?” He pulled two pancakes and the remaining bacon onto his plate. “I have to drink mine with cream and lots of sugar.”

“That’s how I drank my coffee when I was seven.” Zeke huffed and poured maple syrup all over his pancakes. Then he offered the bottle to me.

“Maple syrup? Or are you too old and wrinkly and cranky for that, too?” Blanche set my cup of coffee in front of me, and then turned to look disapprovingly at Zeke. I grabbed the bottle of maple syrup and slathered my pancakes in the sticky substance, before tearing a bite off with my fork and eating it, making eye-contact with Zeke all the while.

He took this as a challenge. Hence, we both began to shovel pancake down our throats as quickly as we could. Five minutes later, even with his two extra pancakes, Zeke had sorely beaten me. He then moved on to much on his bacon, and I followed suit. Blanche sat down.

“Are you two ready to go yet? We’re losing daylight, and Ira wanted us home before he gets back. He didn’t take the key, remember?” I took a gulp of my coffee, thoroughly enjoying the tingle that went down my spine afterwards, before I answered Blanche.

“I’m almost ready, I just want to finish my coffee.” I took another sip of said beverage. Then a question flew off of my tongue. “Where is Ira, anyway?”

“We don’t tell each other anything when we go to take care of Mafia-related things. That way if one of us gets captured, they can’t beat the truth out of us because we don’t have it. So I couldn’t tell you where he is or what he’s doing.” Zeke stood up for emphasis, stretched, and picked up his plate. “Are you done?”

“More or less.” He picked up my plate and set all of the dishes into the sink, before he disappeared behind a corner.

“Finally!” Blanche exclaimed, adjusting the plaid scarf around her neck. “Let’s go. Zeke, get your jacket.” The smell of a freshly lit cigar kicked the wondrous odor of pancakes out the window.

“It’s already on.” Zeke walked back from the entry hallway wearing a suit jacket, the guilty cigar in his mouth. He had two jackets over his arm, one black and one white. “Here’s your jacket Blanche,” he said, handing her the black jacket. “This jacket’s for you, Flo; it can get cold in the Underworld.” I accepted the garment, which was a little too big, and put it on. The three of us then migrated out the door.

As we strolled down the cracked and battle-weary sidewalk, I began to see what ‘life’ was like for the dead. A choir of man-powered lawnmowers sheared down grass in unison; children were roller-skating on the sidewalks and drawing pictures on the driveways with pastel chalk. There were women walking down the street or tending flower beds together, gossiping and laughing, and the occasional couple could be seen enjoying breakfast outside on their patio. A bitter breeze blew through the trees, bringing with it the scent of smog and flowers, and some other, unidentifiable odor; something that smelled almost sickeningly sweet. I shivered, and a chill ran down and up my spine. Zeke had told the truth- it could be cold in the Afterlife, indeed.

While I gave curious looks to the numerous people who passed us on street, Blanche dictated the day’s battle plan, her heels adding a click for emphasis with every step she took.

“First, we’ll go shopping for clothes, since those are a necessity. Then, we’ll stop at the café for lunch, and then we’ll go get knick-knacks for Flo’s room. After of which, we’ll return home just in time to let Ira in.” She stopped abruptly to look at us, and I nearly ran into her. “What do you think?”

“Do whatever you want; I’m just here to make sure you two don’t get into any trouble.” Zeke took a long, dramatic puff from his cigar. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and tell him to hurry up, especially since the smoke felt warm on my cheeks. “Ira thinks that the other gang is planning a surprise party to welcome Flo to the Underworld, so we’ve got to keep our eyes peeled.” My heart dropped to my stomach.

“Thanks for putting all the blame on me!” I cried, a little shaken by his offhand, cryptic statement. “It isn’t my fault they’re targeting me!”

“I never implied that it was your fault! I’m just telling you what Ira told me, so if you’ve got beef with anybody, it’s with him!” I opened my mouth, expecting some cheeky remark to fly out and verbally smack Zeke in the face. That cheeky remark, however, curled up and died when I realized that Zeke was, unfortunately, right. I shut my mouth and looked away with a grunt. It stayed silent as our trio progressed deeper into the maze of brick shopping centers, but I wasn’t in the mood for looking around at my new home anymore. Instead, I kept my eyes on my dirty, fraying shoelaces. Then Blanche stopped. This time, I ran into her. She didn’t notice.

“What about this shop here? It looks like it has some interesting knick-knacks for your room, Flo!” She stared at Zeke and me with a forced smile. Her eyes clearly read: Stop being silent, you are freaking me out. I looked at the store. An oval sign proudly boasted its name- Steward and Co.’s English Imports- in fancy green lettering. A British flag hung in the window behind painted china figurines and stacked canisters of something called Horlicks Malted Milk. It was quaint enough.

“Let’s go inside.” Blanche let out an audible sigh of relief, and blew her bangs out of her face.

“Alright.” She pushed open the door. A bell rang, and a silver-haired gentleman slowly walked out from behind the register to greet us, a fuzzy white caterpillar lying above his lip. I was convinced it was pretending to be a moustache.

“Hello, you three,” he said in a chipper tone. His caterpillar-moustache bounced up and down with every word. “Can I help you find anything in particular?” Blanche shook her head and tightened her scarf.

“No, thank you. We’re just looking.” The man nodded and returned to his post, and Blanche dragged Zeke and me over to a shelf of porcelain ornaments. There were porcelain dolls in ridiculously puffed up dresses with watercolor eyes. They were propped up next to an army of Kewpie dolls, all in different outfits. Candle holders, ink wells, music boxes- you name it, they were on the shelf. Suddenly, I saw something familiar.

“Felix!” Zeke spun his head around and nearly knocked a brunette doll off of the shelf.

“What?” I held up the black and white trinket in my hands.

“Felix the Cat! I grew up with that show!” Zeke began to chuckle to himself while I turned the figurine over, careful not to break it.

“Do you want it?”

“Yes, please. It would look nice on the dresser.” Zeke yawned, blowing smoke in my face inadvertently. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Blanche beeline towards a rack of clothing.

“Then we’ll get it. I’ll buy anything as long as it makes your room more hospitable. Do you want anything else, or can we split and go to another store?” I looked over everything on the shelf again. The brunette doll Zeke had nearly sent to the floor caught my eye. He noticed. “Do you want the doll?” I shrugged.

“No, I was just looking at her. I’ve never really seen a porcelain doll in real life before.” He tsk-ed me, then picked up the doll.

“I’m getting it for you, anyway.” He began to walk towards the register. “Besides, what kind of girl hasn’t seen a china doll in real life before? My sisters had dozens. Did you grow up in a cave or something?” I wasn’t sure whether to respond to the new information Zeke had conveniently stuffed into the sentence, or yell at him for assuming I had grown up like a Neanderthal. Part of me wanted to ask if he knew what an x-Box was. I settled for responding in a civilized manner, to disprove his accusation.

“China dolls just weren’t popular where I came from.” Zeke began to snicker as he set the doll down on the register. I set down my Felix figurine.

“And what backwater, rinky-dink place was that?”

“Freeville, New York.” He looked at me, surprised, when the elderly gentleman interrupted.

“Did you find everything you were looking for, sir?” Zeke snapped his attention towards the clerk, as did I, though my attention was towards the clerk’s moustache.

“Yes, thank you.” He dug his wallet out of a suit pocket, and held it open, ready to pay. Blanche suddenly appeared next to me, and set a pink scarf down onto the counter. She smiled at Zeke, who rolled his eyes, but continued with the transaction without a word of protest.

“Is the doll for you?” Blanche whispered in my ear. I nodded, trying to hear her quiet voice over Zeke. I really didn’t understand how he could be so loud and bombastic when doing things that didn’t require any over-the-top enthusiasm.

“Zeke insisted on buying it for me. He implied it wasn’t normal for a girl not to have seen a china doll before.”

“Lucky.” She gave me a knowing smirk. “That means he’s warmed up to you.”

“Are you two coming?” I looked over to the front of the store. Zeke was already holding the door open, a bag in his hand. I could see my new doll’s curly brown hair peaking up over the edge of it.

“We’re coming,” I replied. We caught up to him and exited the store. I fell into step right next to Zeke. Blanche was toddling, most likely day-dreaming, right behind us. People were swarming around us in every direction. Zeke pulled out a cigar from his suit pocket and lit it with a match from another suit pocket. Then he turned around and walked backwards, so he could face Blanche and I at the same time.

“Where do you two want to go next?” He peeked over his shoulder to make sure he didn’t collide with anything. “Macy’s is two blocks down, if you want to shop for clothes.” My jaw dropped.

“Macy’s?” Blanche caught me by the shoulder and stared at me, as if I was crazy.

“You don’t know what Macy’s is?” Her eyes widened, and I was scared she would burst into tears. “It’s the most wonderful place in the world! They have the prettiest scarves and great sales, too!”

“Not to mention they are responsible for a huge Thanksgiving Day Parade. I really am assured that you grew up under a rock if you don’t know what Macy’s is.” I groaned.

“I know what Macy’s is!” I cried, exasperated. Blanche grinned, apparently relieved. Zeke began to snicker, but I chose to ignore him. “I was just surprised that they have a Macy’s in the Underworld. After all, we’re dead. Do the dead really need new shoes? Name-brand, no less!” Zeke shrugged his shoulders.

“The one thing about being dead is that you had to be alive first. It’s not necessarily that you need new shoes when you’re dead, but sometimes buying new things makes you feel a little more alive. Everything in the Underworld is designed to make you think you’re still living.” He pulled the cigar out of his mouth, and gave me a sad smile. “Honestly, I don’t think we could continue to exist any other way.” I looked away from somber and mature Zeke, realizing I couldn’t stand him looking so world-weary, and forsaken, and sad. You should watch your big mouth, Flo, my brain chided.

“This conversation is rather depressing.” Blanche took Zeke’s cigar and shoved it back in between his lips. “Let’s go ahead and go to Macy’s. That will cheer us all up!” Zeke immediately returned to his annoying status quo.

“Cheer us up, my ass!” Zeke blurted out, waving his arms around as if they were words working to prove his point. “What about my poor wallet?! I’ve only got ten dollars left, and I had fifteen before we went to the British Imports Shop! Do you want my little wallet to starve!?” Blanche rolled her eyes.

“Who cares about your wallet? Flo and I need new clothes! And shoes, and gloves, and hats! Those are the most important, you know.” Zeke stuck out his lip in a pout and crossed his arms. Still, he started walking in the direction of Macy’s.

“I don’t understand you women,” he mumbled, dejected. “You really are a different species. ‘I need clothes, I need hats, oh goodness I broke a nail, buy me a new one!’ It makes me sick!”

“Someone’s a little sexist today.” Blanche laughed at my comment.

“No, he’s just sore because he knows he’s going to spend all his spare change on clothes when he’d much rather spend it on a martini at the Speakeasy down the street.” Zeke huffed, but said nothing. We came to a stop at the end of the block, and waited for the traffic (consisting of red trolley car after red trolley car) to stop.

Suddenly something shattered in the distance. I heard somebody shriek at the top of their lungs. A series of ear-splitting bursts let out in rapid succession, followed by more screams of bloody murder. I was afraid to turn around, but I did. So did Blanche and Zeke. At the beginning of the block, a shop window was shattered all over the sidewalk. Innocent passerbies nearest to the unfortunate shop were lying on the ground with their hands over their heads. The luckier people who had been farther away were running as fast as they could away from the store. Someone pulled me back behind a wall. I turned to look at my undead companions. Zeke’s mouth was drawn in a thin line. Out of his suit came what looked like part of the gun he had shot in the house the night before. He connected another piece of the gun to the other piece with a click.

“They’re here,” Zeke grunted and he peered over the side of the building. “Blanche, give Flo your extra roscoe. We’ll give those bastards what they’re looking for.” With intent to kill clear in his eyes, Zeke continued to pull piece after piece of gun out of his jacket and connect it to the other pieces as if it were a puzzle. A pistol was suddenly put in front of me. I took a step back.

“Go on, it won’t bite.” Blanche teased. “It’s only a pistol.” Tentatively, I took the gun. She beamed, before cocking her own gun and planting her finger firmly on the trigger. “You ready to go, Zeke?” Zeke grinned, a fully formed monster of a projectile-firing weapon in his arms.

“Of course. I’ve been waiting to use this baby all day.” He snorted. “Bad day to go shooting, fellas, especially when I’ve got a Chicago Typewriter.” With that, Zeke turned the corner. I turned to Blanche.

“Chicago Typewriter?” She began to chuckle, showing off her dimples cheeks.

“That’s slang for Thompson Submachine gun. It was Zeke’s ‘Unbirthday’ present.” Her smile faded into a far more serious expression. “I’m going to go round up the civilians and get them somewhere safe. You stay here, and don’t move. I’ll be right back.” Blanche readied her gun, and darted across the street almost like a mouse trying to get across a kitchen floor, ducking behind stopped trolley cars. She made it safe and sound, and I saw her pull an older woman to her feet, before she began to usher her somewhere else. Then I looked down the block, afraid of what I would see. I didn’t see what I expected. In fact, at first I didn’t see anything. That was before a familiar head of unkempt black hair ducked out from a store window to scout the area and then stuck out his Submachine Gun and pulled the trigger. Then I got a good look at his target. A man in a dark suit and a bowler hat was narrowly avoiding getting disemboweled by Zeke’s frighteningly accurate Chicago Typewriter blasts by hiding in the doorways of various shops. Behind that man was another man in a pinstripe suit, who was dragging something behind him. I realized, horrified, what he was dragging: the elderly clerk from the British Imports Store. Outrage welled up inside of me.

“You get ‘em, Zeke!” I yelled as loudly as I could. “Get those bastards!” A hand clasped over my mouth, as an arm wrapped itself tightly around my stomach.

“He may get us, honey,” a man’s voice said, chilling me to the bone-marrow, “But not before we get you.” Another hand started to trail up my leg, and the man began to snicker.

“You’re a little plain-looking, and you aren’t nearly as curvaceous as I’d prefer, but that’s okay. I’ll have at least a little fun with you.” I felt my eyebrows furrow downwards as my blood went cold. Then the logical side of my brain let instinct take over; I bit down as hard as I could on the man’s hand, and shoved my foot as hard as I could into his leg. Immediately, he lurched back. I grabbed the pistol Blanche had given me, aimed it straight at his head, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I stared at the gun in shock.

“You don’t know how to shoot a gun, do you?” The man shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe the fact I was gun-illiterate. “Getting rid of you will be easier than I thought!”

“Excuse me?” I bit my lip, as if to stop myself from saying anything unnecessary, and thrust the pistol into the man’s face, knocking a few of his teeth out in the process. He flopped backwards to the dirty pavement with a whimper. I inched forward and poked him with my foot, and was pleasantly surprised to find he was utterly out of it. Pride replacing fear, I bent down to retrieve Blanche’s pistol.

“Alright,” I said to myself as I looked down at my unconscious attacker. “I need to go find Blanche.”


Submitted: July 08, 2011

© Copyright 2020 Anne Shepard. All rights reserved.

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Haley Renee

This was a good chapter :) Keep up the good work :) KMU!!

Sat, July 9th, 2011 2:32am

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Thanks! :D

Sat, July 9th, 2011 6:56am

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bluerose1227

Yay! that was amazing! Keep me updated!

Sat, July 9th, 2011 11:07pm

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Thanks, beta-reader! :D
Was I able to fix all the mistakes you pointed out? :D

Sat, July 9th, 2011 5:22pm

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