Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bella's Tarot Reading...

Author: Brian Joseph Johns

Since writing Where Art Thou Barris? I'd wanted to bring Bella back in another story. To follow up on her life and progress in the aftermath so to speak. Transylvania has a wonderful mystique and intriguing lore that has been explored numerous times in other works a thousand fold. So I thought I'd bring Bella here to our neck of the woods in a pseudo themed mini-adventure that happens somewhere between A Lady's Prerogative and A Lady's Prerogative II: Wounded Aerth. I hope you enjoy this tale.

Bella's Tarot Reading

"Transylvania?! I was just there!" Mila exclaimed.

"That was months ago. And right when you and Barris needed just a little bit of spice in your lives to make things interesting." Susannia responded, her ghostly form extending from Mila's historical portrait rendering.

She'd painted the piece on a canvas, one of her largest paintings. Six feet wide by nine feet tall. An upper body portrait of two Women who'd innovated the position of Women, progress and the incredible responsibility that lay within the arms of scientists of their day in the early eighteen hundreds. It depicted two well known historical friends. One named Susannia and the other named Margaret. It was as simple as that and anyone eyeing her painting would know perhaps not who they were or their significance, but they'd see it painted in their poise and expression.

She'd kept the painting hidden for three years before meeting Barris and then after their return from L'Arbor De Noire she'd pulled it from her storage and placed it upon the wall. One night a few nights after she'd placed it upon the wall she'd wandered downstairs from her bedroom after an erotic and steamy encounter with Barris for a snack. She'd wandered into the den to find where the painting was centered on the large wall to find a bottle of wine they'd corked earlier in the evening when she noticed a chill in the air. When she turned to return to the kitchen, she was confronted by two ghostly apparitions. She jumped back startled even letting a scream out of her lips which sounded more like a "yip" than anything.

"My dear? That's hardly a scream. If you're going to do it you'll need to do it more like..." Susannia began.

"Wait! You'll go and terrorize the whole orchard. You'll send all those poor fauna and deer sleeping out back running for their lives. You'll wake the dead, you will!" Margaret said responding to Susannia.

"Wake the dead? You're hardly one to scold me about that. I mean look at the ruckus you caused by your silly book. Frank M. Stine was it? Oh it's been so long I can hardly remember." Susannia countered.

"Well you with your silly loom contraption are no better. I mean that thing was pretty much alive if you ask me, though it did not possess the biology one might find on a biped or quadraped. It couldn't even be classified as a ped at all. It was purely an 'it'! Nearly alive or so it would seem though it was made of parts that were n'yer able to breath!" Margaret was quick to parry.

"That depends upon how you'd define breath my dear. A thread or pattern might be a breath equivalent to ours for my loom making device. Would not you consider the characters from your nightmare of a book to be without breath? Ironic considering the context of your story." Susannia countered defending her mechanical craftiness.

"Begging your pardon but who are you?" Mila finally worked up the courage to challenge the two apparitions.

"Oh? She's back. Good. She didn't scream after all." Margaret directed herself to Susannia.

"She's fine. We'd better answer her or she'll have those dastardly ghost and demon hunters here in the drop of a feather." Margaret replied.

"Me first. I'm Susannia of Myrlebone, Earl of Lovelace milady." Susannia curtsied for Mila who bowed for her by instinct.

"I guess that leaves myself. I'm Margaret of Somers Town in London (of course). Wife of my beloved Percy. Oh Percy I do so miss him. Why didn't you add him to the canvas as well?" Margaret introduced herself.

"Or my William? My dear it would have been the first we'd had our tangled grasp upon them for such a long time. Oh how I'd ravish him!" Susannia grinned from ear to ear before batting her eyelashes at Mila innocently.

"You couldn't hope to nearly match what we'd heard from her bedroom only a moment ago!" Margaret put her hands on her hips amazed at Susannia's coyness.

"I have to admit I'm a bit in envy. Just a bit though... It's been soooo long..." Susannia's ghostly cheeks visibly flushed.

"So who are you my dear? You must be the one who etched us to this canvas and wall giving us life anew?" asked Margaret.

"...I'm Mila. Mila Rendebelle." Mila replied.

"The Rendebelle must have been your Father's side because I only see a tiny bit of Rendebelle in you my dear. You look to be a bit more Tokugawa. Perhaps Edo? Or even Usumi?" responded Susannia.

"Usumi? I'd say she appears a bit more Ito!" Margaret glared at Susannia.

"She is who she is!" Susannia stood her ground.

"Thank you! Actually my Father is from Austria. He and my Mother married in Osaka where he met her. She took his name naturally and they had me." Mila responded a little perturbed to have been taken apart so readily by these apparitions.

"You see! I told you that she was Japanian." Susannia held her chin up.

"Japanese! I think you've been tinkering with gears a little too long if you ask me. It does you a bit of good to read a word or two every now and again..." Margaret smirked at her friend and then looked to Mila.

There was a moment's silence before Margaret spoke.

"So is he a graven lord of lustful thoughts? He must be mounds of meat and muscle from the sounds of what I'd heard coming from your bedroom..." Margaret blushed nearly as much as Mila did.

Mila smiled and turned red recalling her ecstasy only moments earlier.

"No. Well... that's... Barris. My love you know. He's special..." Mila replied thinking about him.

"What? You mean he needs tending to? Like the lesser learned maybe? The lesser abled maybe?" Susannia asked.

"Barris? No. He's not special in that way though the disabled are not considered lesser here at all. In fact one of our most learned Scientists is paraplegic. He has limited to no control of his limbs or head muscles yet he's discovered some of the most profound secrets our Universe has held for ages." Mila responded.

"Who? Your Barris?" Margaret seemed amazed.

"No. Not Barris. He hasn't really discovered anything... Though he has discovered many of my most pleasurable zones in a short time... but no. Barris did not discover the secrets of the universe. Unless you'd consider my erogenous zones universal secrets?" Mila said blushing even more.

"Hardly now that you've divulged them so readily." Susannia eyed Mila precariously.

"And you are here for what purpose....?" Mila asked defensively.

Susannia and Margaret looked at each other quizzically.

"We don't know. You painted us." responded Susannia.

"I mean you could have included our Husbands. Our horses. Our estates even. But nooooo. You had to just paint us, our cleavage and perhaps a grotesque smile on our..." Margaret glared at Mila.

"Grotesque?!!! How dare you! Do you know how many weeks it took me to etch the expressions on your faces in that painting?!!!" Mila's fury was apparent in her response.

"What? A week? Maybe two?" Susannia responded folding her arms.

Mila's face held fast.

"Thirty weeks." she replied.

"Thirty?" Margaret confirmed.

"Yes. Twice fifteen. Thrice ten. Hextet five." Susannia smiled glad to have confounded Margaret for the first time in two hundred years.

"That's longer than I mulled over my wedding gown. It's certainly longer than my lust life with Percival. But far less than I spent with quill and ink whilst writing my coup de gras!" Margaret's chin shot up in confidence.

"...and nearly as long as I'd considered the design of the gear I eventually had to hand mill myself... after I'd hand milled the tools to mill the gear in the first place for my loom making device..." Susannia contemplated Mila's dilemma.

"So it appears that we are of like minds. Like obsessions?" Mila asked the ghosts.

"What? Are you saying I'd spend thirty weeks obsessing over the smiles of two Women who died two hundred years prior? For thirty weeks nonetheless?" asked Margaret.

"Likewise?" Susannia confirmed with Mila clearly above the lure.

"No. But Margaret, you'd spend nearly two years writing Frank..." Mila started.

"Yes it was just about that." Margaret replied reminiscing.

"Or that you'd spend nearly your whole life creating the loom making device and working with Charles on the Mind Engine." Mila's shyly smiled as if in the midst of stars.

Susannia blushed.

"Oh it was nothing really. I was so enamored of Charles though. Such a deft and charming Man. We were so entwined in the inner workings of the numerical apparatus. It was a splendid time." Susannia mired over her life's work reminiscing.

"I see her point. Or perhaps better put... paint. Pun intended I do so mean." Margaret thought about it.

"She's of a like mind and way. Why I do believe we've met a like soul? A like mind?" Susannia queried Margaret.

"I'd say because we have." Margaret replied.

"Then I'd say well met." Susannia curtsied once again for Mila as did Margaret.

That was how they met. Ultimately just a month after Mila's encounter with the Power Lord in the warehouse down on the main intersection of Alivale.

"Transylvania?!!!" Mila exclaimed.

"You don't have to go there. That's where your friend was calling us from." Susannia cupped her hands over her mouth as is amplifying herself.

"Summoning I think would be more the word for a Woman of her calling..." Margaret chose her words carefully.

"Bella! You mean Bella. The Gypsy?" Mila asked.

"Yes! Now you're thinking! You remember! She personally requested your presence from a distant place... though she's not in Transylvania." Susannia rested her chin on her hand.

"Well? Where is she?" Mila asked her stomach grumbling.

"Mila? Are you alright honey?" Barris yelled from the top of the stairs.

"Everything's fine sweetie! Just a minute more luvvy lips." Mila replied drawing a quizzical look from Susannia and Margaret.

"Alright. I'll be in bed. I've got your favorite massage oil ready..." Barris tried to sound seductive instead sounding like a poetically literate spokesperson for floorwax.

"Alright honey..." Mila replied seductively.

"Massage oil? What are you doing up there? Can I rent him for a week?" Susannia asked Mila.

"Never! So where is Bella?" Mila responded defensively.

"She's in a place of eternal falling water... a symbol for fertility and the female sensuality of abundance... the distant land of... Niagara Falls!" Margaret clasped her temples as she appeared to channel the knowledge of Bella's location.

[Saturday April 15, 2017 4:01PM Updates and additions proceeding and preceding]

"How...? What is she doing there? I mean when Barris and I last saw her she was just getting set up as a fortune teller in Transylvania." Mila asked very much surprised.

"Well I haven't the slightest as to why she'd have gone to Niagara." replied Susannia playing coy.

"I mean it's only one of the largest tourist attractions in the West not to mention a natural wonder of the world where many couples go to... how would you say? Consumate their relationships?" Margaret continued from where Susannia left off.

"What better place for a Gypsy fortune teller to set up her business than the place where so many people start their lives together?" Susannia posed a wide smile stretched seemingly ear to ear.

"I'm sure it can wait. Can't it? I mean Barris and I were just about to..." Mila was cut off in mid sentence.

"Who are you talking to Mila? Are you on the phone? If it's your Mum, tell her I said hello and send her my love. If it's Shaela, you tell her she needs to get a play toy for that giant cat of hers. On our last adventure her cat purposely tore my clothing right down to my nickers! If it's Sato, don't tell him that the Bonsai tree he gifted us is on its last legs... Hurry up! The massage oil is getting cold..." Barris yelled down from the top of the stairs.

"Alright honey! I'll be up in a minute! Keep it warm for me!" Mila leaned around the corner and yelled up the stairs to Barris.

"Not even married and you can't tell him that you're talking to two ghosts?" Margaret asked Mila crossing her arms.

"Well we haven't ascertained that you are in fact ghosts per se but possibly some residual magic left over from a prior artful incantation I might have accidentally imbued upon the canvas from which you emerged." Mila explained to them.

"Mila, you need to go see Bella! And soon!" Susannia responded her hands now on her hips.

"I said no! I will consider your demands tomorrow after I've enjoyed the rest of my night with Barris. That's final!" Mila replied her tone lacked amusement of any sort as she began towards the stairs.

"You heard the girl. She wants to enjoy her night with Barris." Margaret shrugged her shoulders as if giving in to Mila's demands.

"Then we give her a night with Barris. A night to remember?" Susannia verified with Margaret.

"I mean you can't stop a Lady when she knows what she wants, can you?" Margaret agreed.

"Unless she isn't aware that she doesn't know what she wants..." Susannia countered.

"You sly girl you. I guess that could be. So I suppose that we should do something about it?" Margaret narrowed her eyes at Susannia in disbelief of her craftiness.

"Let's." nodded Susannia.

They both simultaneously waved their hands in front of their faces leaving a trail of watery sparkles resembling a river's run just before the drop into the grand falls themselves.

Mila continued up the stairs momentarily feeling dizzy part of the way up. She felt a tug from within her core and a moment of sickness which quickly subsided. She then continued up the stairs determined to get to the bedroom and spend the rest of the night with Barris. It was when she arrived on the landing that she realized that she was not in her own home anymore. She was somewhere distant in fact had no idea of where she was at all.

She was indoors for certain and there seems to flurry of activity at the bottom of the stairs which had turned into an elaborate spiral with bronze railings and a marble floor landing.

"Where am I?" she asked herself out loud.

"Are you lost Miss? Perhaps I can be of help." asked a man dressed in a bellhop uniform.

"No. I mean yes. Where are we?" Mila asked sounding confused.

"We're on the second floor landing. The restaurant is just over there and the elevators that way. Would you like me to take you somewhere?" he asked politely.

"Thank you but I should be alright. I'm feeling a bit ill and faint. What building are we in?" Mila asked looking spooked.

"We're in the Niagara Grand Hotel. Would you like me to take you to our in house Doctor?" he asked her.

"No thank you. I'll be alright. Thank you again." Mila replied appearing to be in shock.

"Very well. Have a nice evening Miss." the bellhop left her.

"Susannia. Margaret. What have you done?!" she cursed under her breath.


Barris crossed the room towards the bedroom door in his loose fitting boxer style gauchies with the opened bottle of massage oil in hand.

"What is keeping her?! We had this planned all day!" Barris said allowed obviously frustrated and impatient.

Maybe she wanted him to come find her. Perhaps she was more affine to having their little playtime in the living room or den. The kitchen maybe? He grabbed the handle of the door which somehow felt different than the bedroom doorknob with which he'd become accustomed. He pulled the door open yelling ahead of him.

"Mila... I'm going to count to three. When I'm done, I'm going to come down there and find you. When I do, we're going to have our romantic massage oil evening and make love right there on the spot!" Barris yelled trying to sound seductive instead sounding impatient and pragmatic.

He was shocked to find that he was not looking at their upstairs hall but instead what appeared to be the somewhat populated carpeted hallway of a large luxury building. The patrons, many of whom were well dressed stopped to look at Barris in his under shorts. He dropped the massage oil as he realized that he was not in his own home.

"No need for alarm. I'm just looking for my... girlfriend. You see we were just in our own home and... now I'm not there. I'm in this place...? Where ever this place is... Ok. Be calm. I'm going to go back in there, where ever there is. Alright?" Barris assured the patrons who appeared to be just as embarrassed as he was.

He turned to step back through the doorway slipping and upending his feet completely on the floor which was now slippery with massage oil. He landed on his back upon the carpeted floor momentarily winded. A few of the patrons started towards him.

"Are you alright Sir?" one of them asked.

"...Wait... don't come near me..." Barris struggled back to his feet carefully.

He slipped again just barely catching himself before falling.

"It's alright. I'm Ok. Thank you very much. I'll be going. In there." Barris gestured to the door continuing his way back through the door from whence he'd arrived.

Barris closed the door behind him getting a good look at the room. It appeared to be a hotel room from the look of it much like a self contained apartment.

"Hmmmm. Now how did this happen? Why does it always happen when I'm in my undergarments?" Barris asked aloud hoping Mila would walk through the door with an explanation.

He ran for the drawers of the desk looking through it for some hint of where they were. He found a sewing kit with the words: Niagara Falls Star Hotel. He continued looking through drawers until he found the information package, a small folder with a local directory and all of the calling information he'd need to know where he was.

"Well I guess I can rule out another dimension thankfully." Barris looked around the room spying that the television was a modern large screen LCD diplay.

"...and another time." he said thoughtfully.

Barris picked up the phone and dialed zero. A moment later the operator came on the line.

"How can I help you?" she said in a friendly voice.

"Operator, can you dial the following number..." he said giving her the home number of Mila's house in Alivale.

The phone rang for two minutes solid without being picked up.

"I guess she got whisked away too..." he said aloud picking up the phone once again and asking the operator to dial Mila's cellular.

The cellular phone rang for some time from inside their home right beside the land line phone on their night table. Nobody answered and Barris hung up.

"Alright. She doesn't have her phone with her. Now what?" he asked himself.

"Ah Ha!" Barris said in a moment of brilliance.

He ran into the bathroom and found a beautifully clean fluffy white house coat and a pair of fresh packaged slippers. He threw the house coat on and sat on the edge of the tub, unwrapping and putting on the slippers.

"Don't worry my love! I'm coming to rescue you!" Barris said with focus and confidence as he stepped out the hotel room door.

A moment later he was on his back having slipped in the massage oil again.

"...why?" he muttered from his back.


"Because I was on shift at the Sanctum!" Shaela exclaimed to Mila.

"So you mean you ended up here because you were shifted at the Sanctum?" Mila asked Shaela.

"Well whenever your crazy hair-brained situations seem to arise I'm the one usually on shift at the Sanctum. Do you think that I'd be here, at a one armed bandit trying my luck and fortune? You'd more likely find me at a Cat sanctuary than here." Shaela answered.

"Then why are you here?" Mila asked Shaela.

Mila paused for a moment to think about Shaela's explanation. Shaela'd been pacing the high point of the Sanctum when all of the sudden - she was in a Casino.  She'd seen the cat's eyes on the dashboard of the slot machine. She scoffed at them at first. Then the urge to test her luck. The luck of a lady who'd always landed on her feet despite how you'd dropped her. She instinctively pulled as the machines had drawn their customers to do. No fortune had come up but Shaela had broken even. So her Cat luck was certainly present. She'd pulled the arm of the one armed bandit again and again and...

Mila had suddenly arrived snapping her out of the need to do so.

"There's something desperately wrong." Mila had appealed.

"You're right. For me there is. I'm more of a roulette kind of gal." answered Shaela.

"That's not what I meant." Mila responded sharply.

"I thought you'd be a bit more lucky for me at the one armed bandits..." Shaela spoke into her purse.

A miniature version of Shaela's Shadow Cat peeked out of her purse.

"Is that who I think it is?! Why is it so small?" Mila asked Shaela.

"I can summon it either big or small you know." Shaela replied as her shrunken Shadow Cat peeked its head out of her purse.

"How does that compare to its natural habitat?" Mila asked.

"Not very well seeing as there are no naturally occurring purses in the Shadow Plane!" Shaela replied sarcastically.

"This is a little bit bizarre and dream like. I'd never have expected to find you here in reality." Mila said flabber-ghasted.

"Well I never expected to be whisked off from my home through a planar portal to a Casino. At least we were both well clothed." Shaela responded reaching almost automatically for the arm of the one armed bandit.

She hesitated and after a long struggle spoke.

"One more." Shaela said pulling the arm down in one clean yank.

A row of gold bars illuminated the feedback display and coins began erupting happily from the machine.

"Alright Kitty. You've earned your keep." Shaela said planting a kiss on its head.

The mini-Shadow Cat looked to Shaela with its glowing red eyes and let out a somewhat loud and rambunctious meow.

"Now we've got some money. Let's find out where we are and make this situation right." Shaela said to Mila as they both gathered the coinage from the Casino floor.


Barris being an astute but clumsy fellow had eventually gotten to his feet amidst the oil slick before the hotel room door. Humbled by his initial experience leaving the hotel room he'd sat in bed rethinking his plan. There were often many complications in a relationship with a Wytch. He'd known that from the beginning and had embraced it wholeheartedly before he'd fully understood the ramifications. One such detriment at least from his point of view was that during their adventures, he'd often find himself teleported to the middle of nowhere in nothing more than his evening gauchies. He'd contemplated this often and wondered perhaps that the powers that be might actually have a sense of humor. He then would go on to wonder how funny they'd find it if their mutual predicaments were reversed. Assuming of course that such powers in fact did wear gauchies at all. He accepted the fact that was something of which he would likely never be sure. In the end he was more grateful of what he didn't know than he was of what he was sure. Some things in life were just meant to be keep us wondering.

Having returned to the interior of the room he rationalized that he should call home, leave a message should Mila check their messages from where ever she was. On his message he'd given all the tidbits of information he'd learned about his location and that he'd call home again in precisely one half hour. It was at that moment during his contemplation that there was a light but firm knock at the hotel room door.

Barris got off the bed and slipped his feet into the slippers he'd managed from the hotel room bathroom kit. He headed over to the door checking the digital peep hole. It was a bald man with a large and fluffy twisted moustache wearing a jacket and bow tie. His nose covered a good part of the real estate in the middle of his face.

"Hello? Who is it?" Barris yelled from the other side of the door unsure if he was registered as the guest for this room.

"It's the Hotel Concierge. I have an urgent message for a Mister Barris whom is supposed to be occupying this suite at this time." the Concierge spoke in perfect eloquence.

Barris puzzled for a moment evaluating his options. A moment later he opened the door smiling as if nothing were out of place.

"Ahhh. A message. Good. I was expecting this very message. Yes indeed." Barris responded rubbing his hands together greedily.

"Here you go Sir. Please sign here." the Concierge presented Barris with a golden pen.

"Heh... Nice pen. I should hope so at this very expensive place. I mean I paid good money for my room here, yessirree! So the least you could present me with is a good pen for signing urgent messages like this one that I was very much expecting. Good job!" Barris said handing the pen and signed receipt back to the Concierge.

Barris slipped back inside the room before the Concierge could utter another word. Barris looked at the envelope he'd received just as he heard a crash just outside of the hotel room door.

He opened the door and saw the Concierge on the carpet having slipped in the massage oil slick.

"I'm sorry but some buffoon seems have had an oil wreck at my front door here. Let me help you to your feet." Barris held out his hand helping the Concierge to his feet.

"Don't worry Sir. We'll have this cleaned for you right away." the Concierge responded.

"Oh and by the way. You wouldn't happen to have tuxedo rentals here would you? My clothing seems to have not arrived. Probably on another flight. Could I rent a tuxedo of about your size temporarily?" Barris asked pushing his luck.

"Very well Sir. I will charge it to your room." the Concierge replied steadying himself.

"YES!... I mean yes. Alright. Thank you. Good day to you." Barris watched for the Concierge to clear the slick safely before closing the door.

"Aha! My luck seems to have changed considerably!" Barris said checking his face in the bathroom mirror.

"Let's rescue Mila. In style." he said to himself in the mirror as he tore open the message.

Dear Barris,

I knew you would be at the room. You know how? Well thats what I do. I'm a Gypsy. I read palms. Tarot. Tea reading. Psychic Advice. You name it. I had to let you know that you and your friends are in grave danger. You must meet me at my shop on the Niagara Strip at The Gypsy Wayfarer. It is about six blocks north of your hotel. You can't miss the sign. Wait. You could miss the sign. After all let's be honest, this is Niagara Falls. My sign is the only sign without lights but I did try to paint it with glowing paint. Perhaps once we talk we could arrange to have Mila make it look nicer? Talk soon...

Signed your dear friend,

Bella The Gypsy

"What is she doing in Niagara? Wait. What am I doing in Niagara?" Barris said aloud to himself.

He pocketed the room key card and stepped out the door. With his first step he slipped on the wet carpet and fell with a thud onto his rump.


Nelony had awoken early in her posh residence on the west coast. Her daily routine had been pretty much the same since she'd started her schooling at the Sanctum and had continued much the same after her graduation. She'd owned a small flower shop which operated five days a week throughout the year. During the weekends she'd commit her time to her duties at the Sanctum resuming her life as the flower shop lady upon returning.

She turned to spy her bedside clock noting the time to be twelve thirty ante meridiem.

"That's strange. I hardly feel tired and I have to wait six hours to get ready." Nelony thought aloud.

Her pet budgie chirped loudly from its perch in her room.

"And what is your problem Reginald?" she asked the bird.

"Chrrrp. Tweeltl. Twirrrt. Chirp."  Reginald chirped and squawked a few times for her and she nodded back to her little friend.

"Yes. I know. I can feel it too. There's something very strange going on." Nelony replied to the little bird.

"Chaauwp. Twirt?" Reginald asked.

"No. Its not lack of sleep." Nelony replied.

"Teeereewt. Toot. Tooortl?" Reginald side stepped across his perch.

"I'm not hungry. You just asked me that so I'd ask you if you were hungry didn't you?" Nelony asked accusingly.

"Pweep Pwoop." Reginald replied hopping across its perch in the direction from whence it had come.

Nelony looked at the little bird for a moment before breaking down.

"Alright. I'll get you a snack. But just a little." Nelony said finally breaking down.

She stepped out of bed still wearing her favorite flannel pajamas and put her slippers on. Reginald quickly flew to her shoulder where it safely perched as she descended the stairs to the main floor. She went into the cupboard and retrieved a half eaten seed cake, still in its wrapper. She delicately unwrapped it and broke a small piece off for Reginald who accepted it from her fingers.

"Feel better?" Nelony asked Reginald.

"Twup!" Reginald let out a proud chirp.

She pocketed the seed cake and began towards the stairs. As she walked through the doorway between the kitchen and the main floor hall she felt a static tingle from head to toe. An instant later she was no longer in her home but in the midst of a gathering of people. Each of them still as statues.

"I don't think we're in Kansas any more Toto." Nelony said to Reginald on her shoulder.

"Chwip Teert. Twee. Twirp. Chip. Tooort. Weee." Reginald responded.

"I know we don't live in Kansas. It's a figure of speech taken from a movie." Nelony explained the Reginald.

"Twirtwirt weert. Chirt Chip Choort." Reggie said hopping from one leg to the other.

"Alright. Just don't poop on me." Nelony said as Reginald disappeared into the quiet of the shadows for a moment before returning swiftly to her shoulder.

"All better?" she asked Reginald.

"Twup!" Reginald replied happily.

She looked around the dimly lit room at the statue-like figures surrounding her.

"I don't think they're alive." she said examining them each as she passed between them.

"Twirt Iwt. Errt. Chwerp." Reginald said flying to an extruded wall mounted light switch.

"Yes. I'd like to be able to see a little better if you could." Nelony agreed with Reginald's idea.

The little bird pecked at the switch a couple times and the room was suddenly flooded with light.

"I think they're mannequins. Maybe? They certainly look life like." Nelony said to Reginald as the little bird returned to her shoulder.

They both paused when they heard a noise from the other end of the room. Nelony and Reginald looked at one another. Nelony finally proceeded in the direction of the noise.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" she asked aloud approaching the mannequin that appeared to be the source of the sound.

She approached it and looked closely at its face.

"This one looks remarkably like..." Nelony began as she touched its face with her hand.

"That's because it is Sato! I didn't know it was you. When I heard you the first time I just thought it might be safe to hide until I knew more." Sato turned somewhat surprised to see Nelony.

"I take it that means you don't know where we are?" Nelony asked him.

"Maybe we're in a mannequin factory?" Sato said sarcastically.

"They look a little too realistic to be mannequins." Nelony noted.

"Well this is certainly a storage room of some kind." Sato said looking Nelony over.

"It's good to see you're dressed for the occasion." Sato said again with his biting sense of humor.

"Well some of us don't wear pajamas all day you know." Nelony responded defensively.

"I am not wearing pajamas. I am wearing a hakama and gi. There's a big difference. The fact that they are also comfortable for sleeping is just a coincidence." Sato said adjusting his gi.

"Well my pajamas are comfortable for more than just sleeping. Not to mention that its not like I got a notice before I was whisked off to this place. I didn't exactly have time to change." Nelony looked herself over making sure her blouse was buttoned.

"Chweeturp!" Reginald added.

"At least you weren't on the yōkei-ba halfway through your favorite book when you were whisked away..." Sato said retrieving a book of Haiku from his pocket.

"Yōkei-ba?" Nelony confirmed she'd heard Sato correctly.

"Uhhh... How you say? The loo. The latrine. The toilet." Sato said thinking about it carefully.

"I'm sorry to hear. I'm even more glad that I didn't arrive before you." Nelony said somewhat relieved.

"You'd have likely seen a second moon rise if you did." Sato responded pocketing his book.

"On that note lets see if we can't get that door open and find the first one." Nelony said pointing to the door.

[Update Friday June 30, 2017 9:26PM EST]

Onward To Bella's

Barris despite being dressed very dapper in a courtesy tuxedo care of the hotel he'd just left and smelling of the lavender massage oil he'd only twenty minutes ago slipped upon, felt out of place on the Niagara strip. He'd often felt this way without Mila. Like he was missing part of himself. Better put he was himself before having met her. Directionless and incomplete. Mila had somehow filled in that missing part that he'd been lacking his whole life. She'd admitted to feeling the same way to him. On a night of heavy after sex pillow talk. They'd spent the night conversing in their after sex high. There were no sweet nothings as Mila nor Barris took anything about their relationship for granted. They were a part of one another. They would never be the same without each other and this was not so much dependency as it was completeness.

The answer to tonight's mystery lay with Bella and according to the directions he'd received she was only a block away. The mysterious and enigmatic fortune teller that she was. Having lived through an encounter with one of Vlad the Impaler's descendants in his very Castle in Transylvania a hop, skip and jump from Romania. Just as she had been before, she was the missing link in this current mystery alight within the marriage capital of the world. Barris had at first noticed the symbolism involved in this coincidence. He'd only been arguing with Sato a few nights before about the whether he should propose to her or not. Sato had been supportive but ultimately respected that the choice was that of Barris. Only months before in a similar situation they'd ended up in Transylvania where he'd had to risk all for her love. He'd felt whole. Relieved as if he'd proven his worth of her. A rite of passage as it were.

This time the symbolism was a bit more... invasive? Barris pondered the what the symbol of the great falls were as he walked uncomfortably to Bella's. Was Mila pregnant? The falls had been a great symbol of fertility to the early indigenous Canadians. That symbol had been carried on by the tourism establishment who'd played upon the commerce that it might bring. He though momentarily about a little Mila or Barris running around their house in Alivale and giggled. He then shuddered.

"A dad? Wow!" Barris asked himself aloud.

"I beg your pardon sir did you say you were looking for a cab?" one of the passersby addressed him.

"No thank you. I don't need a cab. Just enjoying an evening stroll. I was just thinking about my wife to be and how I've been looking for her furtile... I mean for a while." Barris quickly corrected himself.

The patron looked at him peculiarly and backed off defensively.

"Look sir! I just tried to help. No need to bring your sex life into this..." the man said holding his hands up in defense.

"My sex life? How dare you! My wife to be is more fertile than a frisky bunny at a rabbit convention!" Barris burst out loud defensively.

The patron Barris had just addressed sought a quick escape running down a side street.

Barris then looked down at his pants to notice that his broom closet was partly open. He quickly zipped his fly up in the cover of a storefront and then continued walking towards Bella's.

Someone walked by him and spat:

"Pervert!" the old lady spoke as she passed him.

"This night just seems to get more and more... something. I'm sure that Sato would love to have caught this." Barris mumbled as he closed the remaining distance between himself and Bella's Shop.

to be continued...

I am Brian Joseph Johns and this is A Lady's Prerogative http://talesofthesanctum.blogspot.ca.

Copyright © 2017 Brian Joseph Johns

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