Saturday, February 28, 2009

Senseitional Noir!

Act 10: Poisedone

Like I said, world of pain. It felt like my entire body was on fire. Looking down at me, two familiar faces, Annie and Hanna, both looked relieved but still concerned.

"How do you feel, Mack?" Hanna asked. There were some of those paddles nearby, I noticed out of the corner of my eye as well as wrappers and other medical doodads scattered as far as I could see.

"Like I'm on fire," I rasped, gritting my teeth.

"Don't you EVER do that again? You hear me?" Annie sobbed, hugging me.

What did I do? I wondered. Dames. I just don't get them.

"I idea, why you are still breathing," Hanna said, hugging me too.

"Ladies, ladies...awww, crap! Thanks." I said. For some reason, I couldn't move.

That's odd, I thought. Waitaminnit!

"Hanna...what do you mean?" I asked.

It took awhile for her to get control of herself, but eventually she let go of me.

"I mean...I don't know what poison that bitch used. It must be slow acting. I couldn't detect it in your blood, Mack. I'm so sorry!" Hanna exclaimed, hugging me again.

"Aw hell," I said, "it ain't your fault, dear. By the way..I can't move."

They both cried louder. What was I thinkin'? I wondered. That was a dumb thing to say. But it's not like they wouldn't find out.

"The witch wants him to suffer," Akira said.

Akira is still here? Apparently. I couldn't move my head to look.

"Akira is right," I said. "She is Kane's daughter. Or that's what she claims. She told me I would suffer a lot of pain before I died."

More sobbing and hugging. Oh great. Way to cheer them up, Mack, I thought.

"We must take him to Sensei," Akira said.

"Yes! Of course! Gramps will fix him up!" Hanna exclaimed.

"He is not your gramps, Hanna. He's a hermit. A sage," Akira said, sighing.

"He doesn't mind me calling him gramps. He might protest, but secretly he likes it," Hanna replied, hands on hips.

"Yes, that as it may, he is the only chance Mack has," Akira said, resigned.

"You mean, there's a chance he can save Mack?" Annie asked, finally letting me go and wiping her eyes.

"I don't know. There's only one way to find out," Akira said, lifting me up effortlessly. "Let us go!"

Damn, he is strong, I thought, hoping he didn't drop me. Akira effortlessly carried me outside like a rag doll, and I heard him order one of his men to bring the limo around. Soon I was lying on the back seat with Hanna and Annie sittin' on either side watchin' me intently.
Akira sat in the opposing seat.

"Drive," Akira ordered the driver. "Get on 8 east. I will tell you what exit to take.
Go fast!"

"Hai!" The driver responded, burnin' rubber.

I saw Akira get his cell phone out and make a call.

"Master Yukio? Yes, Hanna couldn't identify the poison. I'm taking him to the old man's place," Akira said. There was a pause. "Yes, I think that is his only chance. Yes, I will. Hai!" And with that, Akira snapped the phone shut and placed it in his pocket.

"What...?" I asked, tryin' to control the pain caused by the poison.

"I know an old teacher of mine...he was my Sensei and my Master," Akira said. "He knows Japanese and Chinese medicine. If anyone can save you, he can."

"Thanks," I said, weakly.

"Don't thank me yet," Akira replied. "I'm not so sure Sensei will help us."

Meanwhile, Annie and Hanna fussed over me. This wasn't the worst way to go, I thought, smiling.

"Gramps will help Mack, daddy, I just know he will," Hanna said, looking for confirmation in Akira's eyes. But Akira avoided her gaze.

Nearly three hours later, after exiting highway 8, we followed a lot of side roads, and finally, a long dirt road. A trail, would be more descriptive.

"Just keep moving and you probably won't get stuck," Akira ordered the driver. "Stay away from any soft sandy areas."

"Hai!" The driver barked.

Awhile later the limo was stuck.

"Don't try to get out, we're in too deep," Akira said. "We don't have much further to go anyhow. You stay here, and don't run the AC or the limo will overheat. Help yourself to the water."

"Hai!" The driver replied.

Akira opened the door and I could feel the desert heat instantly burn away the cool, air conditioned air inside the limo. But it was a dry burn.

"You should stay here," Akira said to Annie.

"No way!" Annie exclaimed defiantly.

Akira muttered something under his breath, drug me out and slung me over his shoulder.

"Grab as many bottles of water as you can carry, and bring the sake and tea," Akira said to Hanna and Annie.

It took another half hour on foot, and Akira didn't put me down once. Finally, we came to a small little house with a shaded porch. Near the door was a bell which Hanna was gleefully gonging.

"Stop that, you are going to make him angry!" Akira shouted in a whisper.

Hanna stopped, and while Akira was putting me down on a chair she gonged the bell again. Akira shot her a look and Hanna tried, unsucessfully, not to laugh, which got Annie grinning. They both covered their mouths.

And we waited...and waited...and waited. Twenty minutes later there was no sign of Sensei.

"Gramps where are you?!" Hanna shouted.

Akira gave her a token glance, but he looked more worried than flustered at his daughter's exuberance.

"I'm going to check inside. Stay here," Akira said, taking his shoes off. "I mean it," he added looking back.

Akira tried the door and it opened. He slipped silently inside and closed the door softly. It was so silent I could hear myself breathe. Hell, I could hear Annie breathe too. Time dragged on and it dragged the unwilling seconds with it. Hanna tried to look inside through the closest window.

We all heard a loud thump, followed by another thump and Akira speaking quickly.

"Sensei...Master, it is me, Akira! Wait! Oof! Ow! Will you please listen to me?!"

"Get out!" A voice ordered. "Out I say!"

More thumping and crashing which grew louder. as did Akira's voice as he got closer to the door.

"This is an emergency!" Akira shouted. "Ow! Sensei! Don't you recognize me?"

Hanna ran inside. I started to warn her of Akira's warning but she was already in the house.

"Gramps!" Hanna shouted.

"What's goin' on Annie?" I asked, unable to look inside.

"Hanna is...hugging the old man," Annie said, looking into the window, her hands cupped around her eyes to block the sunlight.

"Sensei," I said. "Don't call him old man."

"Well, he is old," Annie said.

"Let me see," I said.

"What? Are you joking? I can't carry you around like Akira did," Annie replied.

"No, your mirror. In your purse," I said. "You do have a mirror, don't you?"

"Oh, right! Now I see," Annie said, getting her compact mirror out. "How's this?" She asked.

"A little to your left, wait, back an inch...hold it. Can you block the sun so there ain't a glare? Okay, I'm wrong. This ain't gonna work. Thanks anyway," I said, grimacing from the pain.

"Oh Mack, you're in pain," Annie said, coming over to hug me again.

Just then the door opened and Akira came stumbling out backwards, followed by a staff wielding Sensei and Hanna, who was holding his arm and tryin' to talk to him.

"You two! No hanky panky on my porch! Get a room!" Sensei said facing Annie and me.

"Pleased to meet you sir," I said, my voice muffled by Annie's heaving bosom.

"Um...hi," Annie said, waving to Sensei. "We aren't, I mean, Mack here is hurt and..."

"That's what I have been trying to tell you gramps. Mack is poisoned, and it's slow acting, but it will kill him," Hanna said.

"Quit calling me gramps. Why did you bring him here for? Aren't you a doctor?" Sensei asked.

"Well, yes, but I cannot give him an antidote if I don't know what poison is in his blood," Hanna said. "You can help him, gramps, I know you can," she added, starting to sob. "Please, gramps!" She said, hugging him.

Sensei was taken aback from the tears. Obviously, he wasn't used to dames cryin' and huggin' him. Welcome to the party pal.

"Yes, well...ahem. So this must be Mack," sensei said, pointing his staff at me. "You," he pointed at Annie. "I need you to remove your breasts from his face, yes that's a good girl. Go fix me something to eat while I examine him, along now. Shoo."

Annie released me and blushed. She was about to protest but thought better of it, hesitantly moving out of the way.

"Thanks gramps! Your the best!" Hanna said, kissing Sensei on the cheek.

Sensei cleared his throat and said, "quit calling me gramps! And don't think you can manipulate me with kisses. Especially just one. How about you? Are you going to kiss me too? Hmm?" Sensei said, looking at Annie.

"You want me to kiss you?" Annie asked. "Are you crazy?"

"Did I say that? I didn't say that," Sensei said. "I simply want to know if you are going to kiss me like Hanna did, that is all. Don't make me out to be a dirty old man, I didn't start this. And yes, many would call me crazy, having no idea what crazy means."

"What? I never said..." Annie began, obviously getting angry. Hanna whispered in her ear, and Annie nodded. "Oh, okay," she said, kissing Sensei on the cheek.

"I know, you just can't help yourself," Sensei said, smiling. Now go and fix me dinner," he added, moving towards me to get a better look.

"Hmm..," Sensei said, studying my face, and ignoring Annie's indignant gaze. His eyes widened. "You...are the one. I have seen you in my dreams. Death follows you and now you can't run," he said in a low voice.

"What one? What do you mean, Sensei?" Akira asked.

"Silence!" Sensei shouted.

Akira bowed and kept his head down.

"Bring him inside," Sensei said, walking back into the house.

Akira picked me up and effortlessly carried me into Sensei's home. He followed sensei to what looked like the living room. One wall was filled with shelves of old tomes, which sensei now perused.

The other two walls were filled with all sorts of ingredients in jars, wooden and glass containers, labelled in Japanese. It was probably homeopathic medicines, I guessed.
Sensei was muttering something.

"Wart, warthog, wench, werewolf, oh, here it is, witch," he said.

"You are looking up the antidote?" I asked.

"No, I just wanted see a picture of a witch. The wench looks better, in case you were wondering," Sensei said.

"What book are you looking at, sensei?" I asked.

"You sure are nosy aren't you? I must know what kind of magic the witch used," Sensei said.

"Magic? Seriously?" I asked.

Sensei sighed and put the book down.

"Does this look serious?" He replied, blue lightning shooting between his hands.

"Whoa! That is so amazing!" I exclaimed. "Would you show me how to do that?" I asked.

"No." Sensei said, going back to his book.

"What does magic have to do with poison?" I asked.

"What part of witch do you not understand? Do you always yak this much?" Sensei asked.

"Only on Saturdays when I can't move," I quipped.

Sensei growled and read some more. Soon Hanna arived, bringing the tea.

"What book is that, gramps?" Hanna asked, pouring some tea for Sensei.

Sensei growled again, took his tea and continued reading. Hanna was unperturbed.

"Gramps is not a big talker," she said.

"I wouldn't have guessed," I said.

"Why did he call you the one?" Hanna asked, sipping her tea.

"Beats me," I replied, trying to shrug without success.

Sensei took a drink and ignored us.

"You got anything for pain, Hanna?" I asked.

"It must be really bad if you are asking for pain meds," Hanna replied, looking in her purse.

"I passed bad hours ago," I said.

Hanna put a small white pill in my mouth and helped me drink some tea.

Sensei snapped his book shut and put it away. Then he started rummaging through the ingredients.

"If you are done wasting time I could use your help," Sensei said.

"You got it, gramps," Hanna said.

"Do not call me gramps," Sensei replied, measuring some red colored powder and putting it into a bowl. "Now where did I put those scorpions?"

Scorpions? He lost scorpions? I thought, getting the heebie-jeebies. It's not that i was afraid of scorpions...usually. But not being able to move added a new dimension of fear.

"Are these it, gramps?" Hanna asked, holding up a jar.

"No, wrong kind. I need the Amazonian one's. You can't miss them. The smallest one is 7 inches long," he said, smiling.

"I didn't know you had funnel web spiders, gramps," Hanna said, looking into a plastic container.

"Huh? Funnel web spiders you say? That's odd, I don't recall getting them," Sensei said, looking into the container.

Oh great! Now I had the heebie-jeebies really bad. There's no tellin' what he has crawlin' around this place, I thought.

As if on cue, I heard Annie scream from the kitchen. Hanna ran out to go help, but Sensei seemed nonplussed, as he continued searching for the ingredients he needed.

I saw Akira run by the door on his way to the kitchen. There was the sound of glass breaking, and this time Annie and Hanna both screamed.

"Don't kill it daddy!" Hannah yelled. "Gramps needs it alive."

"What about the rattlesnake?!" Annie shouted.

"I don't know if gramps needs that or not. Here, let me see those tongs," Hanna said.

"You're going to get a rattlesnake with tongs?" Annie asked incredulously.

It was at that moment I felt somethin' crawlin' on my left leg. Since I couldn't move, I had no idea what it was.

"Um...Sensei?" I said.

"Hmmm?" He replied.

"There's somethin' on my leg," I said. "And it's movin' up my leg." Damn. "Sensei? A little help here!" I raised my voice.

"There you are," Sensei said, walking towards me. Sensei reached down and nonchalantly picked up a nine inch long scorpion by the tail. "Now how did you get out?"

I let my breath out, only now realizin' I had been holding it. Hanna came walkin' in holding a rattlesnake by the neck with cooking tongs, followed by Akira with the other scorpion. I fervently hoped that was the last of the lost, giant scorpions, and even more fervently hoped there were no more rattlers slithering around.

"Do you need a rattlesnake gramps?" Hanna asked.

"No, what would I need a rattlesnake for?" Sensei asked. "But I do need that scorpion. Drop that snake, Hanna and help me milk these scorpions."

"No, don't drop the snake, Hanna," I said, feelin' uneasy.

"Don't worry, silly," Hanna laughed. "Here daddy, will you get rid of this?" Hanna asked, handing Akira the tongs and balled up snake.

"What kind of place are you running here?" Annie asked, entering the room.

"Okay, break time is over," Sensei said. "Everyone out, yes you too dear. Chop chop, go cook, I am getting hungry."

"There better not be anymore surprises," Annie exclaimed, leaving the room. "And I need those tongs back!"

"Now, you milk them like this," Sensei said, showing Hanna how to milk a scorpion.

"I sure missed you gramps," Hanna said, kissing Sensei on the forehead.

"I said break time over. And quit calling me gramps," Sensei said, a hint of a smile on his face.

Hannah and Sensei eventually got all the ingredients mixed up, along with the scorpion poison. Sensei then placed the bowl over a burner and heated it up for a few minutes, stirring vigorously. Next he placed the bowl on a piece of white paper and sat on the floor by it.

"I must have silence, you understand? Complete silence," Sensei said. He closed his eyes and wrote, or drew Japanese characters around the bowl. It looked like calligraphy to me, but I couldn't see very well.

It may have been my imagination, or the poison, or perhaps real, I don't know, but the characters on the paper appeared to pulse and glow. Sensei chanted in Japanese and his voice waxed and waned. After about five minutes of this he got up bringing the bowl to Hanna.

"Help him drink this," he instructed. "Slowly." Then he went and sat back down and began to chant again.

Hanna came over and sat by me, raising my head up and helped me drink the foul smelling mixture. It was very bitter but I managed to choke it down. I tried to keep my eyes open, but the chanting made it impossible, and I felt myself falling into a deep sleep.


sensei said...

I feel so ... so used!

Bogie said...

Shcorpion juice, eh? Well, lemme tell yez Mack, if anything'll cure ya that's gotter do it. Now, me I was never much fer those orientalistical kinda cures, but whatever you got in ya obviously ain't gonna come out no other way. An' I'll tell yez- look out fer what a dame can do to ya if ya can't run! Reminds of a dame in Singapore- or was it St. Louis? But anyway it ain't nothin' I wanna talk about on this here fambly type blog.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yes, it's no wonder why Sensei is a hermit.
Heck, I'm thinkin' Mack may very well take up the hermitage lifestyle hisself, after all he's been far.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Bogie-
I wonder what the red powder is. Could be chili powder, but I don't read Japanese. And who knows what else Sensei put in there.

I would ask him but he prolly thinks that would just be a waste of time. Besides, look at him...would you ask him?

walt said...

Sheesh! A tense moment there, when Mack nearly suffocated between Annie's ample/heaving bosoms -- that was a close call!

I know that Mack is a heckuva guy -- despite his susceptibility to witches -- and he desrves all the selfless compassion he gets. But you know, what amazes me is that so far not a speck of jealousy has shown through on the part of the two women, though they both ache for the same man. It makes me think that maybe one of them might be less than 100% sincere? Just speculation on my part.

I thought you were gonna have Mack make a Chris Matthews reference when the scorpion crawled up his leg -- but prolly MSNBC was the last thing he was thinking about, huh? Still, inserting not-so-subtle political commentary into creative characters is almost expected these days.

I can't say much about Sensei, really. I didn't know he was that old! In theory, all that Oriental ju-ju stuff is s'posed to keep you young, isn't it? I suppose there's a limit. But you've got to admit, he can see di-rectly into a person's soul -- like when he laid eyes on Annie, and just gnew she'd be a great cook! It's little intuitions like that that make all the discipline and isolation worth while!

You're churning these out quickly! Now your readers expect a weekly chapter. Now you are a pawn to your audience!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yes, fortunately Sensei was there or who knows what would've happened to mack.

Well, could be that Hanna is just pragmatic, or wise for her age, but you never know what might happen as the situation developes.

Ha! I can't say i was thinkin' of the tingly one at that moment. Perhaps subconciously I equated the scorpion to the tingle brought on by the Zero hisself.
Have you considered bein' a therapist?

I didn't think sensei looked all that old. I think he was just readin' Annie's mind at that moment and she thought he was old, compared to Mack, but not old old.
I'm sure if Mack wasn't around she would be hittin' on Sensei. I could be wrong, of course, not knowin' much about her, but that seems reasonable. She did kiss him afterall.

Yes, I got my audience exactly where I want them. I couldn't have planned whatever I have planned any better! :^)

julie said...

Love it. I think my neighbor found your rattlesnake the other day, slithering past her garage. She was not amused.

Robin Starfish said...

I'm still struggling with exactly how removing Annie's breasts from Mack's face could possibly be part of a cure?

Lessee, scorpions or Annie...hmmm.

Good thing Mack couldn't move or he woulda made the wrong choice...or is this one of those multiple ending stories? ;-)

mushroom said...

Another great, and loaded chapter. A cast of increasingly interesting characters is what makes a great story -- plots just give them something to do.

For my part, I'm still wondering why Yukio is so lenient and wants Mack in the Org -- power struggle maybe? He needs Mack to tip the scales. Is he evil through and through or are there gray areas? Time will tell.

jwm said...

Good luck with your March 4th march through the VA, and related establishments. I've got one in an hour myself. I get to march on the treadmill. Shit, if the doc would have just followed me through the night shift last might he'd know what a treadmill really looks like.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yeah, those rattlesnakes kinda put a damper on humor. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Robin Starfish said...
I'm still struggling with exactly how removing Annie's breasts from Mack's face could possibly be part of a cure?

Ha ha! If Mack had a choice...CENSORED...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur. Characters are what makes or breaks stories. If the characters aren't interesting, and if the reader just doesn't care about any of them, it don't matter how good the plot is.

Heh! Good question concerning Yukio. It's like you read my mind, pal! :^)