Remember the charming prose vignette of the woman driven to distraction by her game designer husband hiding the car keys?
His name is Harold. I am his second wife. While Harold has evolved, his basic nature remains unchanged. He still locks up the fire extinguisher and the first aid kit. Ever an imperious patrician, if he can’t find an elaborately secured, jewel encrusted cache, he considers the storage of tools beneath him and tosses them out of a window, which is why I am forced to find a trowel before I can dig the tweezers or the screwdriver out of the rose garden without dirtying my nails. I’m fussy about my hands.
Harold never replaces a light bulb and is prone to dropping heirloom jewelry in the fireplace. And what does he do with all those doorknobs and drawer pulls? The man is less useful around the house than a Roomba would be which, truth to tell, I don’t dare buy for fear of its transforming into a purple, rune covered, soul sucking demon.
Many a time I have asked myself how did I, a casually venturesome lad or lass, fall for and plight my troth to someone with Harold's, er, issues. But once I fall in love, that’s that. There’s no going back. I love Harold warts and all. It was only warts once, I swear, when I couldn’t, for reasons that should be obvious, find my glasses and misread a recipe. Well, maybe a couple of times.
It all began, Doctor, a few years after I inherited my ancestral home. Harold and I had moved in and like many young couples were overjoyed to own a house and not daunted by the prospect of a mammoth, Mansard-roofed fixer-upper.
Standing at a gilt console table in the foyer, I was immersed in a book--yes, the very same book with the what wasn’t supposed to be a recipe for warts—when on the driveway I heard grinding gears down shifting, brakes squealing, and an inconsiderate splatter of gravel. Was Harold home early? I hastened to hide the grimoire in a suit of armor still occupied by its last owner, dear Aunt Boudicca.
While unlocking the front door was not at that time as tricky a process as Harold, bless his heart, has made it over the gravel spattered course of our 50 years together, my finding a hook and line for a gold tipped Malacca cane then gutting a mechanical koi to obtain the key ring, not to mention matching up the right keys, took a few frantic minutes. Harold’s door puzzles have improved since then. He never carried house keys back in those early days either. I must say, I have been a good influence on him across the decades. He does carry keys now although they are rarely to any door either of us wants to open. Silly me. I have rambled again.
Imagine my surprise when I swung back the door and glimpsed an unfamiliar Daimler swerving through the boxwood hedge and disappearing into the wildwood beyond. So, not Harold. Who, then?
Needle sharp teeth nipped my ankle. I shrieked, hopped sideways, and panned, pardon me, glanced down to my feet.
On the flagstones in a basket lay nestled a sleeping baby and a puppy wriggling to free itself of the blanket. Something was odd about that puppy. Were those horn buds?
Just then the pup grabbed a wax stamped envelope tucked next to the child, jumped from the basket, and beelined under the boxwood. Naturally the first thing on my mind was to retrieve that letter and add it to my diary. You understand. What a dear you are.
After blowing out only the aquamarine votive candles on great-great-great-grandmother’s prie-dieu which we display for tourists in the ruined chapel, I discovered a drawer therein containing a chisel but devil pup—we called him Devil and a good dog he was—refused to give up his treasure for a chisel. Hoping the hunt would not involve both a can and an opener, I axed my way into the kitchen and found—thank the stars—a simple ham, which would have made any ordinary puppy sick. Fortunately, Devil could never be called normal and I knew that intuitively. He dropped the sodden, tooth pocked missive when I proffered ham.
I was not about to open the wax sealed envelope with my chisel or my carefully manicured nails. Trying to think like Harold, I located the correct chased silver implement by pounding a good-sized hole in a bas relief of Bucephalus on the dower house where our ancient butler and coachman lived because the cottage near the stables had become too drafty from all the inexpertly caulked holes in the masonry. Even then I was expected to do everything around here except hide things. That’s Harold’s job. But I digress.
The ornate calligraphy in the letter from a solicitor with offices at Lincoln's Inn revealed that I must raise the infant as my own or the world will end. What was I supposed to do? Turn him over to child services and risk purple, rune covered, soul sucking Armageddon?
Edited by 8dognight (12/31/17 09:51 AM)