Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 27: Land of the Deadski

Previously, at the urging of Haggismarshe’s butler, Benjamin Patrick Nutt, the ghostest with the moistest, leaves the Manor House. He rides his horse to the Realm of the Dead to find out if Lady P. P. is indeed deceased. In other words, will she be around for more adventures?

Before B.P., thousands of spirits lined up for their assignment in the Great Hall of Mother Death, a parade of souls hoping for the best. Some returned to the world of humans and houses to haunt. Some would be flung out into outer darkness for the gnashing of teeth that was their reward. Some would get a rerun as another earthly being, maybe a human being, maybe an animal. Some went on to the Light and the Beyond. Above each spirit was a sign acknowledging where they died. The spirits moved forward.

B.P. began his inquiries with a howdy here, a howdy there. He stopped and conversed with each group of ghosts. “We’re from Transylvania. Vampired. Bite didn’t take, damn it,” one group said. “I was bit by a werewolf. I bit him back,” one spirit said. “A lion had me for lunch.” “Fox hunting, the fox spooked my horse.” “Boat sank.” “Bird shat on me.”

“Died in my bed,” one whispered, hoping only B.P. would hear.

“Lucky bastard,” a number of the others did a synchronized shout.

One spirit from the dark jungles of Africa relayed the following story: “I was with this woman in a cave. The sexiest damned woman I ever encountered. Name of Mata Hari. I gave her the bag of diamonds she came for, took her in my arms, kissed her hard on the lips, saw this flash at the entrance, pulled my gun and shot her partner. Not once, but twice. Her partner, a fellow called Kaptain Kroger Kruger, dropped dead.

“Then I felt this pain in my gut. She pulled the knife out of me, then she drove it like a stake into my heart. Always knew how much she loved to stick it to people but I didn’t think it would happen to me. After all, when you have the charm of a Johnny Eager, women just can’t resist. Damn, can you pull this thing out of me?”

B.P. grabbed the hilt. He had been through this before. It took super-human strength to get the ten arrows out of him. He pulled. He pulled. He pulled and felt the knife move ever so slightly. He jerked hard. The knife came out, and whish. It disappeared.

“Thanks, man,” the man with the tale said. “By the way, my name is Johnny Eager. In your travels, you haven’t seen my Norwegian sidekick, Karl Lutefisk, have you?”

“Can’t say that I have? When did he die?”

“Weeks before I bit the dust,” Johnny Eager said.

“Then he won’t be here. These are the ones that died the day you did. He has passed on to his assignment.”

“Darn, I was hoping to see him one last time. Would have meant a lot to me. By the way, why aren’t you in line in this parade of parades? Since it’s a parade, I was wondering when we would get uniforms. Always did like uniforms.”

“No uniforms,” B.P. said. “I have already received my assignment. Been there one hundred and fifty years already.”

“Then why would you come to this place again? It’s kind of spooky, don’t you think? Oh no, what is this stuff?” Johnny looked down at his gut. Green gook was pouring out. “Man, how do I stop these runs?”

“Grab the ether on either side of the wound and pull it together. You have to hold it that way for quite some time for it to heal. Unless you go on to the light and then beyond. Then it’s poof and you’re healed. I came back here on an urgent errand. My mistress has disappeared. I am here to find out whether she survived a shipwreck or died. Oh, there it is. Up front. The shipwreckees are next to reach the Assignment Desk. Got to go.”

Johnny Eager pinched his gut together and stopped the green gook. B. P. hurried to the sign written in flashing neon, “S. S. Twit.”

“Next,” the spook at the Assignment Desk called out to the Twit group.

The first to move forward on the conveyer belt was the captain of the steamship, Captain Pedro San Cristobel. A hook grabbed him and flung him into the outer darkness. Suddenly he was falling.

“You abandoned ship,” Assignment Guy said and stamped his papers.

One by one, each of the passengers and crew were pulled forward. One by one, each was sent on his or her assignment. The belt drew Wongway Wongway to the Assignment Desk. A. G. looked up from his Book of Assignments and at the ship’s pilot with a quizzical look on his spooky face.

“What are we to do with you, Wongway Wongway?” A. G.asked. “What are we to do with you? It has been an eternity since I have seen someone like you. Your whole life you couldn’t do anything right. Your karma kept messing up your karma with one thing after another.

“Then it wasn’t my fault,” W. W. said.

“Your spirit has always been like this. You escape prosecution because it really isn’t your fault. You keep going back. Then you’re back here at this desk. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred times your spirit has been through this. If I send you back, it won’t matter. You’ll screw things up again. If I send you on to the light and then beyond, you will force the light to go out. We haven’t had one of you in a long stack of forevers. We can’t afford it. If we send you back for a haunting, nope. I can’t take that chance. You’ll disturb all those there already. What are we going to do? Step aside. We’re going to have to give this one some thought. Once the once-over is over, we’ll know what to do.”

Smythie Smathers, Crepe Suzette, Sgt Mack Truck, Studdley Duddley, Pipsqueak Pimplesquat, all pulled forward for their due. Each sent on their way to do the cosmos’ business. The sign “S. S. Twit” disappeared into the abyss and finally B. P. reached the Assignment Desk.

“Was there a Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott on the manifest?” he asked A. G.

“You know I can’t reveal that, Young Man,” A. G. answered, staring at his next group’s manifest. “It’s strictly against regulations. We cannot break the Second Amendment of the Fourth Addendum.”

B.P. gave him a questioning look.

“You know, the Privacy Addendum. Now out of the way. Next.”

B.P. looked sad, very sad. His head hung in resignation. What was he going to tell his fellows? They would be howling, running amuck for centuries, driving all human occupation away from Haggismarshe Manor House. Eventually the house would be cursed by the Higher Ghostess With the Mostest. Into outer limbo, they would go. To howl, scream and run amuck forever. Oh, the pain. If a ghost could have shed tears, B.P. would have shed tears.

“Can I help you?” a short man with Chinese features called. Yet they weren’t Chinese. They were Oriental, yet not Oriental.

“I am afraid not,” B.P. said. He turned toward the conveyer.

“I think I can help you,” the short man with the ambiguous features said.

“How?” B.P. looked at the short man afraid to hope.

“You are looking for someone that was on the S. S. Twit?”

“I am.”

“I was on the S. S. Twit,” Wongway Wongway said. “It was my fault the ship sank. I was the ship’s pilot. Who are you looking for?”

“No. You can’t be the ship’s pilot.”

“I certainly was. Who are you looking for? I met everyone in the group.”

B.P. stood beside the conveyer belt, its passenger sliding behind him. There was hope, lots of hope in his ghostly slots that used to be eyes. He couldn’t believe what would have been his ears if he had ears. He didn’t, of  course. Ghosts don’t have ears. “She is Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe. She may also be known as Viscountess dat Renalla-Macedoni, Marye Caterina Olgastoya. Everybody calls her ladyship Lady P.P. She also has the nick of Double M and her maiden name is Mary-Mary Smith. Have you seen her? Did she go down with the ship?”

“Hmmmm,” the spirit Wongway Wongway thought, then said, “The name is familiar. But no, she did not go down with the rest of us. She was not with the group that went down with the S. S. Twit. Somehow she escaped. She was only one of two out of one hundred and fifty souls. The other, the internationally famous Tootles “The Tootler” Tootle Lou. Somehow she sang her way out of that disaster.”

A. G. looked over at Wongway Wongway. He curled his finger and beckoned the pilot over to him.

“We are sending you into the Light and Beyond.” A. G. smiled, his faith in the System restored. The System had never failed him before, and it had not this time. “Your help for our ghost friend there, that reveals that you have a compassionate heart. It seems that the cosmos has done you an injustice by saddling you with your ill fortune. Whatever your past, you are ready for the Light and the Beyond.”

Wongway stepped through the door, into the light, and was gone, none of his soul lingering behind. The Cosmos had decided to test him and he had passed that test. Wongway Wongway was on the other side of the Beyond and Beyond.

Assignment Guy pointed his finger at the ghost from Haggismarshe Manor. “Now go.”

B.P. fell through the floor of the Assignment Room and into the saddle on Paul Revere’s back. The horse’s feet touched down onto the plank. He walked between the raindrops. B.P. showed his pass before the invisible wall. It divided. On the other side, the ghosts and the servants waited for him. They saw the big smile on his apparition, and they knew. It was the happiest news. Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott of Haggismarshe was alive, perhaps alone and injured somewhere, but alive. Yes, she was alive.

Next Week, Barcelona or Bust.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 20: S. S. Twit-tering Along

Previously the ghosts of Haggismarshe and the Prime Minister were upset.

The S. S. Twit’s crew calmed the passengers, telling them there was no iceberg. The panic turned into an applause, then the passengers dispersed. The S. S. Twit steamed along like the Little Steamboat That Could, happy with the knowledge that it was not about to be sent to Davy Jones’ Locker.

In the ballroom, Tootles “The Tootler” Tootle Lou and her Orchestra swung its swing with The Doodlebug Ragtime and “We’re going to rock it like it’s 1899″. Then they changed the pace with a rendition of “France may be a country, but Paris is a city.” It was a waltz.

“How exciting,” Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott said, her ladyship following her German companion’s dance steps. “We were almost on a sinking ship.”

“Some people like to follow the weather,” said the monocled German Pipsqueak Pimplesquat. “That does not mean they long to live through a hurricane. I have been through two sinkings, and I can guarantee you, fraulein, it is never exciting.”

There was such a longing in the music, the violins leading the singer into sadness territory. It had most of the listeners sobbing. It was that sad.

Such a loverly waltz with such a loverly man, her ladyship thought. Goose pimples pimpled up and down her spine. Her bosoms were blossoming at the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations between Haggismarshe and Bavaria with this Bavarian gentleman of a German. Her monocled partner seemed to fit her bill as a candidate for Mr. Right. And he spoke very good English too. So there would be no need for a translator between the sheets.

Outside a dark cloud moved out from the land, across the sea, and toward the S. S. Twit. It was very dark and very foreboding; that’s the kind of cloud it was.

Pipsqueak Pimplesquat, his face directly facing the tall woman’s bosoms, overcame his reticence to advance the relationship to a new level of diplomatic partnership and asked, “Shall we repair to my drawing room? I have some very nice drawings there. Drawings you most certainly will admire.” It seemed to be the right good move in his way of existentialist thinking, and it was well put.

Slam! Bam! The ship hit … something. Something big. Something hard.

Pipsqueak Pimplesqueak and Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott had a close encounter of the bodily kind. “My darling,” he said, feeling her bosoms up close and personal. “I did not know you cared.”

“I did not know I cared either,” her ladyship said.

From the crow’s nest, a sailor cried out, “We’ve been hit. I am not kidding. We are sinking. Oh, my gosh, we are sunk.” Then he jumped, flying off the tippy-top top of the ship and crashing down toward the deck. He missed the deck and hit the side of the ship and thumped off and into the sea.

Smythie Smathers was taking a dump, got a bump and a pump went up his rump. Thwump! and he was thumped across the plump toilet. Then he slumped and he crumpled. He was dead as a doorknob. Deader than a doorknob. He was really dead.

Crepe Suzette bit off more of a companion’s meat platter than her French tartness could chew, swallowed hard and choked to death.

Studdley Duddley stood and announced to his fellow poker-playing pals, “It has been an honor and downright fun to take your money. But I do believe it is time to skedaddle and rope myself a lifeboat.” He rose and left his tablemates stammered and stunned. Quick thinking was always Studdley’s greatest strength. Especially when it came to self-preservation.

The S. S. Twit had hit a snag. A rather big snag. The biggest snag you can imagine, dear Reader. It hit the Rock of Gibraltar. How the ship had gotten that far off course was anybody’s guess. After all, it should have been in Alexandria’s harbor, not the western Mediterranean.

Some blamed the ship’s pilot, Wongway Wongway, and his pilotage. His ineptness had guided him through a career of screw-ups. Though he kept screwing up, he kept being hired. You see, he worked cheap. Very cheap. What can a guy named Wongway Wongway do besides pilot boats? Open a Chinese restaurant even though he was not Chinese and could not cook? Maybe if Wongway Wongway had a gps or Google Earth, he would not have hit Gibraltar. No, he would have read the coordinates upside down. It was the way of things. The way the yin meets the yang and blows up in your face when you least expect it, that way of things. And some blamed the Captain for hiring him.

Pipsqueak, a gentleman’s gentleman in his best gentlemanly form, pried himself from her ladyship’s body and escorted her off the dance floor.

The floor shook. It shook a lot and it began to lean to the port, then to the aft, then back to the portside. Everyone was heading for the doors, including Pipsqueak, her ladyship and the toot-toot-tootler. The singer pulled the door open and went through, shouting, “Tootle lou and skip to my do, my darlings. It’s toot, toot, tootsie goodbye. The Toot is out of here. Exit stage left.”

Lady Marye and Pipsqueak were right behind her out the door. On the deck, they encountered lots of pan and lots of demonium and lots of pandemonium. People were running to and fro, fro and to, and to and fro again. Pipsqueak yelled, “What’s going on?”

Someone passing someone else yelled back, “We’re running to-and-fro and, if that isn’t enough, we’re running fro-and-to.”

“I am going tootle-lou,” Tootles said and jumped over the side of the ship. On her way down to the water, she cried, “Yippee. I’m having a ding-dong daddy in a ping-pong-paddywack-give-a-dog-a-bone kind of day. Gee, I always wanted to say that and now I have.”

Splat.

The ship started to shake, rattle and roll.

Sgt Mack Truck took it all in his Girine stride. He had faced down Jessie and Frank James in Missouri. He had faced down the notorious Billy the Kid in Tombstone. He had faced down Sitting Bull at Little Big Horn. He had faced down the Spanish at San Juan Hill. He was a Girine and there was nothing he had not met before.

Standing on the deck, helping the ladies into the lifeboats, the sergeant did not see the thing coming. The flag pole above him broke loose from the ship and fell, fell, fell and ran straight into The Truck’s head, through his body, and out his foot. He stood on the deck for moments without thinking. That’s when it came to him. “I am dead. Oh yes, I am dead. No more United States Gyrenes for me.” Then Sgt. Mack Truck of the United States Gyrenes fell to the deck.

A lady was in the Captain’s Bed, her hormones hormoning next to Captain Pedro Emmanuel. Suddenly their hormones stopped their hormonizations. Out popped the Captain’s pooper from her amusement park of love, and he was on his feet. Something had happened to his ship.

“What the … ?” Captain Pedro Emmanuel asked as he pulled his pullover on and slid into his pants.

The woman in the Captain’s Bed said, “Slam bam thank-you ma’am. Just like a man. Always eating and running. You’re abandoning me like all the others.”

“Madame,” the captain said. “Have you no sense of decency? My ship is sinking and this is not the time for more piddle-paddling.”

“Excuses, excuses,” the woman said. “Always excuses.”

“Well,” the captain said, “why don’t you wait here. I will be back in a jiffy.”

“Right,” the woman said. “You know how to break a woman’s heart. You get your way with her, then you’re out of there.”

The captain gallantly leaned over and kissed her succulent lips. “I am sorry, my darling Señora. When I come back, I will take over where I left off. You will be satisfied. That I promise. Extremely satisfied.” Then he was out the door.

Of course, he wouldn’t come back. They never came back. It was always like this. She was always a woman on a sinking ship. But a woman could hope the Titanic wouldn’t sink, couldn’t she?

Captain Pedro Emmanuel Montoya Henandez Gabriel Garcia de Toledo San Cristobel y Mendoza Cantabria headed fore, then aft, then athwartship, then starboard, then port. He ran through the ship’s companionways and out onto the fo’castle and he ran smack dab into the Big Rock. The monster stared into his eyes. He stared back at Gibraltar and felt the S. S. Twit slowly sinking. Not much time.

“Everyman for himself!” he yelled below at the First Mate.

“Skipper!” the First Mate called back. “What about the passengers?”

“They’re all tourists, Señor First Mate,” the captain yelled above the screaming and the whining and the complaining and the crying and the yelling. “Get the hell off the ship.”

“Whatever happened to the captain going down with the ship?” the First Mate cried.

“You have been promoted,” the captain cried back. “You are the captain now.” Then he jumped.

That dark cloud I told you about earlier, dear Reader, it had arrived. It filled the sky above the S. S. Twit. The world had gone black.

Pipsqueak and her ladyship ran to the edge of the deck. They looked down into the waters below. The sea was azure. Besides that, it was blue. Bluer than blue. It was indeed blue.

“Shall we dance the light fantastic, mine fraulein?” Pippy said.

“You betcha,” Marye said. Over the side of the deck, she followed Pippy as he jumped. He let go of her hand and shoved her out to sea. His body hit the side of the boat and bounced into the water.

Next Week: A Nice Night for a Long Swim