The Hunt for Ruber’s Mother: Solved?!

Often, we find the things we’ve searched for aren’t the things we’ve wanted. ~ V. Shnodgrate

***

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And we ran into them.

Ruber and Sandra Salami, that is.

“Whoa me!” Ruber exclaimed.

“I say!” exclaimed Lucy.

“Professor!” Sandra said.

“Sandra!” I said.

“Everyone!” Lucy said.

“You’ve some explaining to do,” I said, looking straight at Sandra—and just a bit at Ruber. “We ran into Daddy Salami—”

“No!” Sandra seemed worried.

“Yes!” Lucy said. “Yes indeed. And he said that you told him everything about our searching for his wife!”

“I didn’t!” Sandra was adamant.

Now this was an interest, for Daddy Salami seemed to know all about it.

“He knew all about it! How?” Lucy asked.

Ruber was shaking his head. “Okay, okay. So, I told him, eh?!”

We all turned on him. The brute! He’s betrayed us. And you know how it goes: If one betrays; one gets feathers, tar, and roses. All over himself, too.

I was just about to tell Ruber this, but he continued:

“Me dad cornered me. So, I told him. I had to.”

“No, you didn’t!” Sandra snapped.

“What harm, eh?” Ruber asked.

He really didn’t seem to know.

“Well maybe that he’s onto us and might try to stop us, you blundering scamp!” Lucy exclaimed.

Ruber shrugged.

“Whatever.” Sandra shook her head. “Anyway, we got a lead.”

“So do we!” I said.

“You do?” Ruber asked. “A wonder you two did anything productive.”

“How rude!” replied Lucy. “I shall have you know that we are often being productive.”

“How so, eh?” asked Ruber.

“Well, you know…” Lucy was fumbling for an example. “Producing things…that’s productive!”

“Oi! All you two produce is loud noises and bad smells.”

“Rather like your kitchen!”

“Enough!” Sandra was always ordering. “What’s your lead, P.VJ?”

“Madam Zelna,” I said.

Sandra seemed a bit shocked. “That ours too! I found another Daddy Salami letter…this one was addressed to his cook: Madam Zelna, and—”

“And,” Ruber said interrupting, “we tracked her to this very castle.”

“To the kitchens!” I said.

And we all set off.

Now, you should know, it’s a wonder trying to get through a maze. Especially a gray, dark maze. It probably took us about two hours to make it back to where the party was taking place. (We followed the sound of Fats Henry’s boomings. Like a thunderclap, you know.)

The party was still in full force.

And now there was dancing.

And then we got separated.

And then…well, it was horrid after that.

Lucy and I followed a chap (he didn’t now we were following him) who led us to the kitchens.

You wouldn’t believe the kitchens either. So many people hard at work. It was like a mill full of rats—or something like that.

“Where is she?” I shouted to Lucy. You had to shout to be heard.

“Over there by the fryers!” Lucy shouted back. “She is like a vicious-looking hedgehog!”

Lucy was right. Across the kitchen there was a lady giving orders. She was small and possessed a long, fat nose. Short gray hair and little beady eyes. It had to be her.

We made our way over.

“What?!” she demanded upon seeing us. “Are you here to chop carrots? Get to work, then!”

“No, no,” Lucy said quickly, “We here to ask if know where we can find Daddy Salami’s wife!”

That stopped her cold. And she just stared. Her beady eyes got beadier.

“Why you want to know?”

“‘Cause,” I said, “Sandra is searching for her.”

“Sandra?” she asked.

“That’s Salami’s adopted daughter,” Lucy said.

Madam Zelna scratched her cheek.

“And we thought you might know where she was…” I trailed off, and Lucy picked it up.

“Because you were his cook, all those years ago!”

Madam Zelna said, “Maybe I’m her.” And with that, she started giving orders again.

That’s when Ruber came flying into the kitchen. “Get out!” he was yelling at us. “Dad is really mad and the whole party is in an uproar!”

Everything after that was chaos, you know. People running here, people running there, people running everywhere—but not in heaven or hell.

We managed to escape the castle that night.

I didn’t really believe Madam Zelna and neither, apparently, did Sandra. We related everything to her the following day. For, you see, after that, the whole search was dropped.

You know how it is: Sometimes it’s better not to know who your mother is than to know and regret.

That, folks, is the moral.

THE END
Written by Professor VJ Duke and Lucy Brazier
Copyright Now & Then

Professorish Note: PLF! So, TPL will be taking a bit of a break. There is some editing and updating that I must do, see. I think I may even have to hunt for a new theme. But we’ll be back! Promise.

The Hunt for Ruber’s Mother: Finally A Clue

Clues come when you least expect them—they’re little dadblameries that way.

~ V. Shnodgrate

***

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Dr. Zauberer’s castle is nice—depending on where you look, I suppose. As he led us deeper and deeper into its heart (I’m assuming castles have hearts—metaphorically speaking) it got colder, damper, darker…

You know, the stones even began to look grayer—if that’s possible, which I’m sure it is.

Dr. Zauberer was in front of Lucy and I, leading with a torch, which emitted the only light we had, I fear.

“Where’s he taking us exactly?” I turned and whispered to Lucy.

She shrugged. “I dread to think,” Lucy replied. “I hope there are some sandwiches or something, though, I am getting peckish. And a little bit frightened.”

“I could use some food meself… And that’s another thing,” I whispered again. “If Sandra Salami betrayed us…it’s time to quit searching, I say. I was bush-peckered into this, after all.”

“I shall be perfectly furious, if that is the case!” Lucy hissed. “She’s supposed to be my friend! I say we spank her then go for a large lunch.”

“What are you two mumbling about back there?” Dr. Zauberer said. “Your legs can’t be tired yet. We’re almost there. My secret study.”

“I don’t know about you, Professor, but my legs were tired before we even reached this blasted place,” whispered Lucy. “What he knows about my legs could be written on the back of a postage stamp.”

I had to laugh at that. It was true, after all.

“No laughing,” Dr. Zauberer ordered. “We must keep the mood solemn.”

Presently, we entered into a rather large room, which had a fire-pit and a bear rug on the floor. Dr. Zauberer sat behind a desk—it was in the far corner of the room—and Lucy and I just stood there.

“Now, now,” he announced, looking comfortable, too. “What did you want to know again?”

“We are looking for the long-lost wife of Daddy Salami,” Lucy replied, as sweetly as she could manage. Which wasn’t all that sweet, in actuality. “Sandra Salami has some notion that she wants to know more about her family history. Apparently.”

“Quite right,” he said. “Well, this is what I know: Many years ago—when this castle wasn’t as old, and I wasn’t as old—a small, ruthless lady came to work for me. You see, I keep a staff of servants and the such. She—that little, ruthless lady—became my head cook. That’s ‘cause she’s good at it, you know. After all—”

“Get on with it,” I said. “Don’t go off on a tangent, you know.”

“Yes, please,” Lucy agreed.

“So that lady,” Dr. Zauberer continued, “was always secretive about her origins…or where she came from. But the one piece of information she was forthcoming with was this: She used to be Daddy Salami’s head cook, or so she said. Her name is Madam Zelna. I recommend you talk to her.” He nodded decidedly. “I’m sure she has more of an idea on things than I do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to see to.”

“But the party?” I sorta asked.

“Heck with it,” he answered. “I’m done with it anyway.”

“Where is Madam Zelna?” Lucy asked.

“In the kitchens.” Dr. Zauberer wasn’t even looking at us anymore. He was concentrating on a mess of papers in front of him.

“Kitchens!” Lucy squealed gently to the Professor. “We might be able to find some cake.”

“True, Lucy… But, Dr. Z, where are they…?” I was getting frustrated, see. Then I whispered to Lucy: “I’m going to bash his head in!”

“Not before we find out if there is any cake,” she replied urgently. “After that, bash away, my good man!”

But Dr. Zauberer answered before I could do anything. “The kitchens are back where we just came from—in the main part of the castle.”

“You brought us all the way down here just to tell us we need to go to the kitchens?” Lucy asked. “How unusually rude.”

Dr. Zauberer looked up. “You’re both getting on my nerves, and Norton knows I haven’t many left.”

“Let’s go, Lucy,” I suggested.

And we did.

It was only a matter of seconds before we were lost in the castle’s winding and bending passageways.

“You know,” I said—you must understand the professor was very vexed at this point—“I’m about ready to give up on this adventure!”

“I know what you mean, Professor,” Lucy replied. “Apart from the prospect of cake, I am at a complete loss as to what we are doing here. And Dr. Z said that the lady was small and ruthless. I don’t like the sound of that.”

“First things first, then the seconds things second. We need to have speaks with Sandra.”

“Stern words, I should say. With arms folded and everything.”

And at that moment, we ran into two unlikely people: Ruber and Sandra Salami.

Written by Professor VJ Duke and Lucy Brazier

Copyright Beginnings

The Hunt for Ruber’s Mother: Daddy Salami

It’s quite usual for the hunters to become the hunted; there’s always a bigger predator.

~ V. Shnodgrate

***

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So, as the party was getting back underway, we went after Dr. Zauberer.

And we cornered him out in the hallway.

“Look here,” I began, “we didn’t come here to be your security after all.”

Dr. Zauberer let out a little gasp, and looked from Lucy to me to Lucy, then down at his feet.

“Whatever you suppose you are looking for, I don’t suppose you will find it on the end of your toes,” said Lucy, folding her arms.

This professor had to laugh at that. “Quite right.”

Dr. Zauberer looked up, then, a bit dissatisfied with life, it seemed. “Fine!”

“You see,” I continued, “we came all this way because we’ve got a question for you.”

“An important one,” Lucy said.

“Well, not exactly a question,” I said. And it wasn’t a question. I mean, it sorta was.

“We just have to discuss a little something with you,” Lucy said.

“Yes…” I nodded.

Dr. Zauberer seemed cranky now. “Well now, well now. I don’t have much time. Since you aren’t helping me anymore, why should I help you? Make it quick, or else make it not at all.”

And he put his hands on his hips.

I looked at Lucy.

“It has become somewhat important that we track down the wife of Daddy Salami,” Lucy explained. “Sandra is keen to know a little of her family history. I imagine she wants to know what she has let herself in for, now she is a Salami and all.”

“Hmm…” Dr. Zauberer said, scratching his goatee. “Daddy Salami’s wife? That’s very…” He trailed off.

“Odd?” I suggested, trying to find the word that had eluded him.

He shook his head. “No, that’s not the one.”

“Interesting?” Lucy tried.

“No, still not right.”

“Unusual?” That is a favorite word of the professor, you know.

“Yes!” he exclaimed. “That’s quite it! You both searching for Daddy Salami’s wife is very unusual.”

“Any leads whatsoever?” I sighed. As a rule, Dr. Zauberer is classified in the ‘Unhelpful Beast’ category all the time.

“Even the tiniest of clues,” Lucy said, “could be of help.”

“Well, let me think…” he said.

Now, we were in a hallway, but I already said that. And it was a narrow hallway, with light fixtures that stuck out very far . That made it even more narrow.

But I tell you this, not because it is of interest, but for this reason: While Dr. Zauberer was thinking on things, I sorta banged my head on one of the light fixtures. I think I said “ow!” and spun about.

That’s when I saw Daddy Salami. He was coming our way. Dr. Zauberer didn’t see him.

Of course, that’s when Dr. Zauberer said: “So, I might be able to help you—”

This professor was in shock, so I didn’t say anything. Thankfully, Lucy jumped in, though.

“But never mind about that for the moment, good fellow,” she said, eyeing Salami as he approached.

“But why?!” Dr. Zauberer demanded. “You either want to know, or—”

“Do you keep a butterfly collection?” I asked.

Then Daddy Salami was upon us, and Dr. Zauberer seemed to understand.

“Why, curs,” he said, chuckling, “how’s is ya? Bwa-ha-ha!”

Everyone was silent for a bit.

Salami turned to Lucy. “What are you up to?” His eyes gleamed.

“Oh, I’m always up to a thing or two,” Lucy replied, winking. “But if I told you, I’d have to kill you. Now – how about we have a little dance, what do you say?”

“Shut-up, cur!” Salami yelled. “I knows what ya two been doin’!”

“You can not neither!” I said, defending.

His feral eyes turned on me. “Yeah, I do! Sandra told me. Hahaha.”

What? Sandra betrayed us. Nah, she wouldn’t do that. I met Lucy’s eyes and I could tell she was thinking the same thing.

“Just know, I’m watching,” Salami said. Then he left.

Dr. Zauberer was standing there, hands on hips, very impatient. “Now, this is your last chance. Follow me, and I’ll show you what I know.”

“Lead on,” I said.

“Keep one hand on your katana, Professor,” Lucy whispered. “We could be in for a bumpy ride…”

Written by Professor VJ Duke and Lucy Brazier

Copyright Yes

Sharing Dinner

Nothing is as intimate as sharing a family dinner with another. ~ V. Shnodgrate 

We sat around a table.

That’s where you always sit when you’re getting to know someone–or, in this case, some-family.

Now, here’s the thing: It’s hard to eat with other people, just because. See, you’re expected to have manners. Not to say the professor doesn’t have manners, but it’s better not to think about manners until you want to think about them. That way, you won’t be vexed. If that didn’t make much sense, I’m not sure why.

Anyways and some, this professor was sitting with a family around a table. But I already said that.

They’d invited me, see.

You don’t want to know what we were chewing on.

“So,” Mr. said. (See, there was a Mr., Mrs., and Miss–and a dog, but he isn’t worth mentioning since he was outside.)

I looked expectantly over at Mr., waiting for the question.

But I was disappointed; it wasn’t a question.

“I notice,” he continued, “that you don’t wear your glasses while you’re eating.”

It was true. I flip them up, see. Here’s the thing: Glasses are good–if you need them–for details, but if you don’t want to see details–which you usually don’t when conversing with people–you flip them up. That’s the story, that’s the way of it.

“Quite right,” this professor replied. “How interesting you noticed. Now I should notice something. I notice that you all–all of you–don’t have glasses.”

Mrs. laughed. “But you’d be wrong,” she said.

Miss didn’t look happy. But then again, her parents chose what the conversation was all about–not this professor.

“Now how’s this?” I asked.

Mr. was chortling himself. “We all have contacts!”

So, this professor didn’t really care, but then again, I suppose it was good to know in a useless sort of way.

I stared at their eyes in turn.

Miss and Mrs. looked uncomfortable; Mr. didn’t mind.

“One good thing,” I announced. “One would never be able to tell that you’re wearing them.”

They all laughed at that, though I’m not sure why. See, what else could I have said? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing. Nothing sweet, that is.

Then we lapsed into silence–which is always an interest. I thought about complimenting the dinner, but I only lie every so often, so I put that out of my mind rather quickly. I thought about asking them for their life story, but all the times I’ve tried that (3 in all, you should know) it didn’t turn out too well. Took them hours to finish.

The professor wasn’t sure what to say, so I said the first thing that popped into my mind:

“Sometimes we forget things, and it is at that incident that we should remember.”

This confused them. But you wouldn’t believe how we went on and on just having speaks about that.

Moral: When you go to dinner, make sure you have many things to say. Topics, if you will. Write them down on a pad or something.

Schwarz Tauptinker and Ice Cream

Why do they always build the ice cream establishments in the sun?

Maybe they don’t.

But I think they do.

Every time this professor goes for ice cream, the sun is shining on my back. Beating down like the rod of discipline, or something.

Once, I went to the ice cream establishment with Schwarz Tauptinker.

It was a mistake.

“Can I help you?” the girl in that cool, sweetly smelling ice cream establishment asked. (See, we had to wait outside. Imagine.)

“Sure can,” this professor said. “I’d like a cherry milkshake, please.”

“Absolutely,” she answered. “For you?” She’d turned to Schwarz.

“I don’t know, chickit!” he said. “What do you have?”

“Flavors are right in front of your face,” she answered. Not very polite.

“But it’s hard to see them,” I said. “Someone built your establishment in the sun. Hard to read in the sun.”

She rolled her eyes. (Her name tag said Megan.)

“Do you have a menu?” I pressed.

“Are you guys for real?” she asked.

The line was building.

“Of course I’m real, you know!” Schwarz answered. “Okay…I got it. Do you have moose ice cream?”

“Moose tracks?” she tried to clarify.

Schwarz shook his head. “Nah! Just moose.”

“I bet you mean moose tracks,” Megan said.

“Me too,” I said.

“Do not!” Schwarz said.

Then I got tapped on the shoulder.

I turned. “Yes?”

There was a fellow there in a pink shirt and a lady in a blue shirt. Mixed up, you see.

“Could you two hurry?” he asked. It was polite, too. So, I was in a good mood almost at once.

“Is it hot in the sun?” I asked.

“Yeah!”

Now he was getting rude.

“Look over there! Look at the strange bird in the tree.”

He looked.

Now, Schwarz had been having speaks with Megan this whole time.

He’d apparently ordered.

His cone—when it came—had something green on the bottom, blue in the middle, and black on the top.

“Chickit!” he said, taking it.

We left.

“That’s a monster,” this professor said. “And look how big the line is!”

“I hate it,” Schwarz said.

And he threw the cone over his head.

I never did get that cherry milkshake.


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