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Tupper Ware hit a button on her phone and slipped it into one of her designer, gin-scented pockets, then turned to her friend, Plexi Glass, and her lover, Tinted Glass. “Okay, here’s the deal. Apparently, the only way we can get a software update for Tinted’s undead status is to go find some woman named Granny Mae in Gravy Bucket, Oklahoma.”
Plexi: “Oklahoma? I’d rather die first.”
Tinted: “And I already did. I don’t think I can handle doing it again.”
Plexi: “Can’t we just call her?”
Tupper: “Oh. I didn’t really think of that.”
Tupper’s gin-scented phone began ringing. She spent a few minutes figuring out which pocket she had put her phone in, despite having just done so mere seconds ago and the helpfulness of the audible sounds that should have served as a tracking device. (Tupper drinks a little, as has been established.) She finally pulled it out. “Yes?”
Irony Skillet: “No, you can’t just call her. She doesn’t trust people that she can’t see. You have to talk to her in person.”
Tupper: “But none of us want to go to Oklahoma.”
Irony: “That’s very understandable. So, it depends on how much you really want to help Tinted. Oh, and also figure out whether or not his death-warning to you is actually doing to happen. That might be helpful as well. Okay, I’ve got to go. I’ve found another homely cousin that is willing to let me dangle him off the side of the guard tower so we can re-shoot my promo video. I wish you would come back to Granada. I’m running out of cousins. Anyway, Ciao.” Click.
Tupper: “Okay, I guess we’re flying to Oklahoma.”
Plexi: “Something tells me there’s not an airport in a place called Gravy Bucket. We should probably drive. It can’t be that far from here.”
Tinted: “Can I go, too?”
Plexi, reaching through the bars of the wine cellar wherein he was captive and patting him on his decaying shoulder: “Oh, sweetie, no. You’re undead. And it’s probably best that we not trust you in such a state, especially since we’ll be driving through hours and hours of nothing but cows and tractors and racists. That would set off a normal person, never mind someone who is already defying the laws of nature. We’ll be back as soon as we can. Do you need anything? Something to eat, perhaps?”
Tinted: “No, I’m not really all that hungry. I mean, my heart isn’t beating, so I guess I don’t need any nourishment. I have to say that I’m mildly disappointed that I’m not craving brains. I think some of those horror movies have got it wrong. But I wouldn’t mind having my Kindle.”
Plexi: “You do love your Kindle. But there’s no wi-fi down here. Do you have enough books downloaded?”
Tinted: “Sure. In fact, I’ve got that first book by Brian Lageose. I still haven’t finished it.”
Plexi: “Oh, me neither. That one takes a serious investment.”
Tupper: “It’s so damn long. The plane doesn’t land for five chapters!”
Plexi whipped out her own phone from an unscented pocket and stabbed at a button. “Raphael? Can you bring Tinted’s Kindle down to the wine cellar?…. No, not the one in the East wing. The West wing… Yes… Oh, and tell Driver to prep the Maserati. Tupper and I are going on a trip… Yes, you do know Tupper. Drinky, drinky?… Right… No, I’m not going to go into why she slapped you that one time, we’ll talk about it later. Just bring the Kindle and tell Driver… Thanks.”
Plexi shoved her phone back into a pocket and turned to Tupper. “It really would be nice if you would quit hitting my staff.”
Tupper: “He deserved it. There were only two olives in my martini.”
The door at the top of the cellar stairs suddenly flew open, bounced off the wall, and then slammed shut. The door opened again with less belligerence, managed to stay open, and Raphael began flouncing down the stairs in an extraordinarily dramatic manner, apparently under the impression that doing so was called for in any way. He did a high kick on the last step and then dismounted to the cellar floor. “I have the Kindle,” he announced, and then turned to Mr. DeMille for his close-up.
Mr. DeMille was not there. Plexi was. “Really, Raphael? Must everything turn into pageantry with you? Give the Kindle to Tinted and exit stage left.”
Raphael approached the wine cellar prison and slipped the sacrament through the bars into the hands of the once and future king of nothing. “I entrust you with this vessel of enlightenment. Be righteous and brave in the service of your queen.”
Tinted wasn’t the least bit interested in enlightenment, which was obvious by the way he took the Kindle and scurried away to a far corner of the wine cellar and began reading the first pointless Lageose epic.
Tupper: “Um, maybe it’s the gin talking, because it usually is, but are you sure we can trust Raphael to not do something we won’t appreciate, now that he’s aware that we have undead Tinted locked up in this wine cellar?”
Raphael’s eyes widened and then focused on Tupper, in a manner he thought befitting of Bette Davis just before she ripped apart an unprepared minor actress in one of her movies. “I would never! I do what I am asked, I cash the paychecks, I have sex with my husband. Done.” He turned and began ascending up the cellar stairs, slowly, channeling Theda Bara as she silent-movied her way toward… oh, who cares, we’re over him.
Plexi: “So, you ready to head out?”
Tupper: “I suppose. Do you think it’s wise that I make sure my will is in order before we do so?”
Plexi: “Based on how you swill your way through life? Honey, you should probably do that every day. Let’s go.”
Thirty minutes later (Tupper had to refill her portable Vice Chest with plenty of ambrosias), the two were on the road. The journey was fairly uneventful. Tupper drank. Plexi wondered if she should renew her commitment to her undead husband, now that she knew about his giant tongue. The car radio only played disco tunes, because Raphael was nefarious when he felt emotionally violated. And they were only stopped for speeding four times, getting off without a ticket in each incident because Plexi always kept a cache of unmarked bills in her vehicle. Oklahoma highway patrolmen only want to cash their bribes and have sex with their cousins.
Eventually, the duo arrived in the quaint town of Gravy Bucket.
Tupper: “This place smells like poor decisions.”
Plexi: “Look, Lady Backwash, you need to stifle that mess. We have to be nice to these people to get the information that we need. We just have to figure out where we can find Granny Mae.”
Tupper pointed at a sign on the right, a giant billboard erected next to what may or may not be a bait and tackle shop. “Welcome to Gravy Bucket! If you’re looking for Granny Mae, she’s in the Mayor’s office. If you’re looking for freedom of speech, keep driving.”
Plexi: “Hmm. I wonder where we can find the mayor’s office.”
Tupper pointed again, this time at a secondary sign that had clearly been added later, a bit of plywood that had been attached to and was swinging below the main sign. “The mayor’s office is located in what may or may not be a bait and tackle shop. The one right in front of you.”
Plexi: “Okay, then. I guess we just need to find a place to park.”
There were no other cars, anywhere, especially in front of the maybe bait shop. Plexi managed to maneuver her Maserati into the only slot that had a sign, indicating that said slot was reserved for the mayor. (Rich people never pay attention to details, no matter the state, which is why this country is going to hell faster than Raphael can quote Greta Garbo.)
The duo clattered into the shop, which apparently refused to conform to labels, a surprising anomaly in Oklahoma. Plexi approached what was hopefully a check-out counter, behind which stood a man who gave the impression of someone who could out-drink Tupper at a church social. “We’re here to see Granny Mae.”
Rusty Nail: “Is she expecting you?”
Plexi: “Not necessarily. But based on the absence of any signs of life out there on Main Street, I wouldn’t expect her day-planner to be full.”
Rusty: “Good point. Let me check.” He walked over to an antiquated phone that could easily serve as a prop in a “Green Acres” episode and started hollering into a tin can attached to a string. “Miss Granny? You busy?… Yeah, we got two women who smell like Dallas askin’ for you… No, no weapons that I can see, especially the one that drinks a lot… Yeah?… okay.” He tossed aside the tin can. “You can go on up those stairs over there. She’s in the penthouse with a view of Park Avenue.”
Our duo climbed said indicated stairs in an ungainly manner that failed to speak of flair. (Raphael wept, down south.) Once ascended, they found themselves in a room with Granny Mae, who was seated behind a surprisingly neat and tidy desk that spoke of efficiency and competence. They settled themselves into two chairs smartly arranged in front of said desk, even though one of them smelled like heartbreak and psoriasis.
Granny Mae beamed with southern charm. “How may I help you delightful and fashionable ladies?”
Plexi: “Well, it all started when my husband-”
Granny Mae held up her hand. “Say no more. Your husband is undead and a spirit invaded his lifeless body, giving you a warning that you can’t quite comprehend.”
Plexi: “How did you-”
Granny Mae kept her hand up. “I’ve been here many times. One thing the ignorant young and pretty things in America tend to ignore is the fact that us older and wrinkled folks have a fountain of untapped wisdom. I’ve seen it all, done it all, married it all, and still made sure that supper was on the table at 6pm on the dot.”
Tupper: “That’s a lot to process. Especially since I have trouble processing to begin with.”
Granny Mae finally put her hand down. “No worries. The only thing I’m not clear on is the exact message that Plexi’s big-tongued husband shared with you in the West wine cellar.”
Plexi: “Oh. Well, he said ‘You will die in the bowels of Bonnywood Manor’. It makes no sense.”
Granny Mae: “It makes perfect sense to me. Have you heard of NaNoWriMo?”
Tupper: “Isn’t that what Robin Williams used to say on that ‘Mork & Mindy’ TV show, way back in the day?”
Granny Mae: “Honey, you need to either drink more or drink less. No, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November. And the creator of Bonnywood Manor always participates.”
Plexi: “I’m failing to understand something fundamental here.”
Granny Mae: “Well, let me break it down for you. Brian Lageose, said creator of the Manor, is going to be very busy for the next thirty days. This blog post, and the three increasingly bizarre posts that preceded it, is his long-ass way of saying that there may not be as many fresh posts on Bonnywood Manor until we hit December.”
Tupper: “I’m thoroughly confused.”
Granny Mae: “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Plexi: “So you’re saying that we drove all this way to Gravy Bucket to find out that Brian, someone we don’t really know, is doing something that we don’t care about in any way?”
Granny Mae: “In a nutshell, yes.”
Plexi: “And the death threat from my undead husband?”
Granny Mae: “Oh, that’s true as well. Because this story will continue at some point during November. Let’s just call it a delicious bone that Brian has thrown out to entice his readers to faithfully visit his blog every day.”
Plexi: “That sounds like extortion.”
Tupper: “That sounds like I don’t understand what extortion is.”
Granny Mae smiled. “Welcome to Bonnywood.”
To be continued. Eventually.
P.S. Yes, that’s me in the photo.