Tuesday, May 31, 2016

6. The Wabbit and the Ghostly Notes

The Museum's Piano Room was huge and the severed hand sped along the line of pianos and back. With a prod of a poky forefinger it tried this one and that - until it settled on an upright piano of considerable size. The hand played a tune on ivory keys that had seen musical evenings of many years. They had suffered the touch of a thousand hands and were worn here and there, but they had never endured anything like the onslaught that the severed hand meted out. The Wabbit and Wabsworth felt their ears turn to jelly. The floor shook beneath their feet as the piano shuddered into a tune. "Graceful Ghost Rag!" shouted Skratch. But the Rag was as graceful as a spectral sausage. "The hand can't syncopate," yelled the Wabbit. "All hands sign the plate?" queried Wabsworth. The hand stopped. Then it switched to D minor. No single hand had ever played Beethoven so sweetly - and no hand would ever do so again. The piano lifted into the air and swayed as the hand tinkled Ghostly Waltzes. Skratch pirouetted and exclaimed he'd never been so moved. With a sudden jolt, the piano crashed on the polished floor and the music halted abruptly. To everyone's astonishment, pianos keys moved independently and the piano began to speak. "Does the hand do requests?"

Friday, May 27, 2016

5. The Wabbit and the Right Piano

They met Skratch the Cat at a museum that lay in the heart of the Bavarian quarter. Skratch always had many keys and most of them fitted something. If they didn't, he had other ways of getting in. "This one's sure to fit," he meaowed. Wabsworth and the Wabbit gently carried the severed hand, wrapped in a bag, through the empty museum. It twisted a bit when it sensed musical instruments, then it traced several notes with a long forefinger. One by one, instruments in the glass cases started to play and displays vibrated loudly. "Shhh," hissed the Wabbit. The music faded slightly and the Wabbit patted the bag. Skratch was enthusiastic. "What kind of piano does the hand want?" he purred. "An early fortepiano? Maybe a virginal or a clavichord?" The hand shook violently. "An electronic piano?" suggested Skratch. The hand made a rude sign. "A grand piano!" said Wabsworth. The hand seemed interested. "Parlour Grand, Boudoir Grand or Baby Grand?" asked Skratch. An air of indecision hung in the air and the hand tried to wriggle out of the bag. "Let's find the right room and let the hand choose," murmured the Wabbit. He gripped the bag tightly and quickened pace as the instruments burst into Scarlatti's Cat Fugue. Skratch pirouetted across the floor. "My favourite," he purred.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4. The Wabbit and the Upper Hand

The Wabbit suddenly turned and the severed hand jumped back. Wabsworth tentatively touched flesh that felt clammy and yielding. The Wabbit sneered and shouted, "What do you want?" For a moment the hand hung like a flap. Then fingers traced the outline of a piano and pecked at the Wabbit's fur. Music filled the arcade with wrong notes that growled and howled. Everything was off key. The hand jarred and twitched and the five fingers pinched. The Wabbit bared 28 teeth and snapped viciously. The hand retreated and bumped into Wabsworth with its stump. Wabsworth brushed it off and spoke up. "Perhaps you'd like a nice ring? I can get you five if you like." A forefinger wagged negatively and made another shape. "It wants a piano," said the Wabbit and he mimed playing one with his paws. "Skratch the Cat can get a piano," said Wabsworth quickly, "he can get anything." "He can get you sheet music, too," said the Wabbit. "And a stool," added Wabsworth, immediately regretting it. Nonetheless, the hand seemed enthusiastic because his fingers were all of a flutter. The Wabbit hummed the Last Concerto but now the hand was far from pleased. It wagged a forefinger at the Wabbit and made a move for his ears. Wabsworth grabbed the arm and twisted, the Wabbit forced the thumb backwards - and together they wrestled the hand down. "It's time to face the music," smiled the Wabbit.

Monday, May 23, 2016

3. The Wabbit and the Five Fingers

Wabsworth and the Wabbit scurried from the cinema with the disembodied hand in hot pursuit. "I need information!" yelled the Wabbit. Wabsworth was an android copy of the Wabbit and resembled him to a point. But where the Wabbit's memory was concerned, he was quicker. "Symbolically, hands can mean justice." "I was just going to say that," said the Wabbit, "but what about fingers?" The hand flexed fingers and showered them in nail clippings that hooked into their fur. A nail scraped viciously on glass. The screech crashed down and chewed the sidewalk. "It's not a helping hand," yelled Wabsworth. He grabbed the Wabbit's fur and hauled him along the gloomy arcade. "I guess handcuffs aren't going to work," moaned the Wabbit. Five fingers drew a series of notes on the wall and the arcade rang to a left handed piano concerto. A sharp nail traced a pattern through the Wabbit's fur. The longest finger touched Wabsworth on the ear and he dragged the Wabbit faster. "Any ideas from the movie?" gasped the Wabbit. Wabsworth began to lope. "We could try giving it a ring." "It hasn't got a phone," yelled the Wabbit. "A finger ring!" shouted Wabsworth. The Wabbit looked around for a jewellery shop and rummaged in his fur for a brick. But a finger and thumb pinched his ear in a painful grip ...

Friday, May 20, 2016

2. The Wabbit and the Phantom Hand

In a small repertory cinema in the very centre of town, the Wabbit and Wabsworth took what was on offer. There was no rain as Wabsworth had correctly anticipated, but there was a musty smell like a soggy mop abandoned in a corner. They sat spellbound. A wheelchair-bound pianist had been murdered and to the haunting strains of Bach's Chaconne, his severed single hand crept abroad seeking musical justice. Both Wabsworth and the Wabbit trembled as the hand opened a window, then jumped at a scrabbling sound from behind them. "People just can't behave at the cinema," whispered Wabsworth. The Wabbit pulled a pad from his fur and made a short note concerning the cinema and popular culture. The hand on the screen wrote a note and signed it, then hid itself in a drawer. "Is this the right version?" asked Wabsworth. "Things are mixed up." "Maybe it's one of these restored prints," suggested the Wabbit. On screen, the hand leaped from the drawer to a piano and played jazz in the manner of Thelonius Monk. Wabsworth was spooked and so was the Wabbit. Nails scratched fabric. "I think there's a cat in the cinema," said the Wabbit. The movie hand casually squeezed the neck of a victim. A gurgle ended in a wheeze and the wheeze faded slowly. The Wabbit felt a sudden thump in the back of his seat. "People have no manners," hissed the Wabbit angrily and he turned ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

1. The Wabbit in the Weary Weather

The Wabbit bumped into Wabsworth in the city. He could never recall the name of the street and if asked directions, he didn't know the way. "What's this street called?" asked the Wabbit. "I have no clue," shrugged Wabsworth, "shall I look it up using a powerful application?" The Wabbit shook his head. "I don't think it matters. It's near somewhere else." The rain was slight but it was one of these showers that soaked into the fur. Wabsworth shivered. "We need a change of climate. This makes my bones creak." The Wabbit was perfectly aware that Wabsworth was an android, but had long given up figuring his idiosyncrasies. "Me too," he murmured. "Maybe the weather is better over there." He pointed vaguely into the middle distance. "The weather is usually different in the cinema," said Wabsworth. "Oh, I know what you mean," sighed the Wabbit. On his last cinematic visit, the air conditioning was set so low he'd been forced to borrow an overcoat and socks. He thought affectionately of South Pacific and Fahrenheit 451. "I suppose we could go to the movies," he suggested, "so what's on?" "Frozen," said Wabsworth. The Wabbit scowled. Rain swept down from the Alps bearing more than a touch of frost, and they dived into a caffè.  "What will you have?" asked Wabsworth. The Wabbit's response was swift. "Caffè corretto!" "Make that a double," said Wabsworth.
Caffè corretto: espresso coffee with a shot of brandy or grappa]

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Wabbit at the Adventure Caffè

They all approached from different angles. With Nessie arriving for drinks, there seemed to be lots of room so they sat down. Nessie didn't scare the waiters because they knew with the Wabbit, anything could happen. The Wabbit looked at Wabsworth and Wabsworth looked at Skratch. "I didn't like that red wind," said Skratch. "It woke me up." It was that kind of wind," drawled the Wabbit. "Makes your fur itch." "Yep," said Skratch, "everything goes screwy." "Well I'll ask the question." said Wabsworth. He hadn't sat down and looked like he was thinking. "What sort of screwy adventure was that?" he said finally. "Skratch smiled a film class smile. "It bounced around like a cork from a bottle of bubbly." "And then the cat got the cork," smiled Lapinette. Wabsworth put a word in. "Don't be so harsh. Despite its noir pretensions, it wasn't a genre piece. The wind drove it along like a screwed up chocolate wrapping." A light breeze played with the flowers in the pink vase, got bored and moved on. Skratch relented. "The wind is invisible but in the adventure the dust betrayed it. It gave it colour and ammunition." Lapinette's ears swayed gently. "The ghosts used the wind like a freight train and didn't pay." "Better charge it to the dust and let the rain settle it," roared Nessie. A spit of rain spread a damp bead on the tablecloth and it was quickly joined by another. "The rain suggests we drink inside," said the Wabbit.

Friday, May 13, 2016

8. The Wabbit breaks the Surface

The Wabbit heard ventilators closing and the unmistakable sound of bulkhead flappers. "Brace!" he yelled and he hung onto a rail. Number Nine Tram shot up through the river in a cloud of murky spray. A warm glow from the sky embraced them and Nessie roared in delight. "Wabbit, dae ye aye have so much fun?" The air was still gritty. But there were no ghosts. Lapinette dug the Wabbit in the ribs. "What happened to the Ghosts from the Mountain?" "Mi bad bwai take care of dem duppies. Dem run." said the reggae creature. "Galang chase dem back where dey fra." "Forever?" asked Lapinette. "Trubble no set like rain, Cunie," said the reggae creature. "No badda bawl - im soon come back." The Wabbit had completely forgotten the creatures knew him as Cunie, the African rabbit god. He grinned but had a sudden thought. "What about the Roman Centurion sent to guard us?" "A voice spoke from the back. "Yahso fi real." The Wabbit grinned again. "You're not a Roman Centurion at all, are you?" "No," said the Centurion reluctantly. "I'm a time tourist." "That will cost you 500 euro," shouted Nessie. The Centurion paid up quietly. The reggae creature stared at Lapinette and whistled a low whistle of appreciation. "I-Rey! Im frack look gud." "I didn't quite hear that." said Lapinette primly.
[Bad bwai : Bad Boy.   No badda bawl. : No use crying.   Yahso : right here.   I-Rey! Im frack look gud. : Well hello! Your frock is nice.]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

7. The Wabbit chants down Babylon

Number Nine Tram hung in the Late Tunnel and all was relaxed - or so it seemed. Reggae creatures swirled through with a tune and left. But Nessie was agitated and roared. "The Ghosts from the Mountain are still coming." A reggae creature draped himself on a seat. "Yuh no haffi worry - dem jus' bong belly pickney," "That's enough donkya," snapped Nessie, "Babylon dey cum." The reggae creature hummed a snatch of an old Trench Town ballad. "Wha bangarang place yu frahn?" The loudspeakers crackled. "Yuh a chat bagga nonsense," shouted Nine, "opin up yuh iez and listen!" A wind whistled through the Late Tunnel and flung red speckled dust at the windows. Reggae creatures bounded inside, shut everything up and fell silent. There was no music - just the sound of scratching glass. "Heavy manners," murmured the Wabbit. "Look, we can't stay in the tunnel forever," said Lapinette, "we need to stop the wind." "Wi a gwaan chant dem down," said a creature. "That's it!" shouted the Wabbit and he whacked his feet on the floor. "Cole cole wind, wi chant yuh down." They all joined in, making it up as they went along. It was a whole lot of chanting and the wind dropped away to nothing. "So far, so good," murmured the Wabbit.
[Bong belly pickney : greedy children.  donkya : don't care. Babylon dey cum : the enemy is coming. Bangarang : old]

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

6. The Wabbit in the Late Tunnel

Deep beneath the bowels of the Metro lay the Late Tunnel. Known to a select few, this was where streetcars hid from inspectors, waiting to pop up on the surface ahead of schedule. Number Nine Tram appeared momentarily, scooped the Wabbit, Lapinette and Nessie from a platform and disappeared into the Late Tunnel. Loudspeakers crackled. "Welcome to my schedule," said Nine. "You're late," grinned the Wabbit.  "It's you that's early," said Nine. With a hiss of compressed air a door opened and offbeat rhythms floated through. The Tunnel was populated with Reggae Creatures, who's music gave a whole new meaning to the term "late". They happily surrounded Number Nine and played a classic that was strictly roots. There was no red speckled dust and no laughing tricksters from the Mountain of Ghosts. The Wabbit breathed a clean, clear sigh of relief. "Wabbit, Mi waah know a watta guwaan yasso?" said a reggae creature. The Wabbit shrugged. "The wind brought ghosts and they're out to haunt us." "Bun a fyah on dat!" snorted the creature. "Rassclaat duppies," snorted another. The reggae creatures broke into a strident dub that lasted a considerable time. "Whit are they oan about?" asked Nessie. "They're expressing musical outrage at our ghost predicament," said the Wabbit. "Oh aye," snarled Nessie agreeably. "Togeda we gibe dem trubble."
[Jamaican/Rasta patois. Mi waah know a watta guwaan yasso? :  I want to know what's going on.  Togeda : together
Bun a fya on dat : (abusive) Burn a fire on that!.  Raasclat  : (abusive) toilet paper.. Duppy : dangerous spirit/ghost.]

Friday, May 06, 2016

5. The Wabbit and the Laughing Wind

The red speckled dust grew worse and the Wabbit and Lapinette scampered for shelter. Nessie followed close behind and slithered along the station concourse. For a wonderful moment they were free of the dust. Then the vents suddenly opened and dense swathes of red dust filled the building. Dusty spirals burrowed everywhere and whenever they touched glass, they gave out a low sliding laugh. "This isn't funny," coughed the Wabbit.  A spiral slid across his glasses and sniggered. "Laughing ghosts!" bellowed Nessie. Lapinette dodged a feathery spiral as it chortled past. "Wabbit, these must be your ghosts." "Ghosts have no sense of humour," scowled the Wabbit as a spiral crept between his ears. Lapinette stopped. "That's not true. Ghosts play tricks and howl with laughter." The spirals howled and flung red grit at their eyes. "These are daft demons," roared Nessie. Vents chattered and threw more dust. "The Sirocco comes from the Sahara," shouted Lapinette. The Wabbit turned. "They're from the Mountain of Ghosts!" But although the Wabbit had a theory, he was no further forward. One of the spirals exhaled a spray of grit in his face and cackled. The air was unbreathable and as hot as the desert it came from. The Wabbit nudged Lapinette, made an M sign with his paws and gestured down at the rails. Then he put his paws over his scarf and muffled his voice like a station announcer. "All passengers to Level 1 for complimentary biscuits."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

4. The Wabbit and Nessie's Connection

Lapinette suggested the wooded river and they made their way through the red speckled dust. "Something moved in the trees," said the Wabbit. Lapinette narrowed her eyes, stared through the hazy air and sighed. "I think it's a Roman Centurion." The Wabbit shrugged and pulled his scarf over his mouth. At that moment, the river erupted and spray drenched him from head to foot. "Nessie!" yelled the Wabbit. "You're supposed to home in Scotland." "I took a holiday," roared Nessie. The Wabbit was horrified. "What about the elections?" Nessie smiled a jagged tooth smile. "I voted at the Scottish Embassy." A wail from the river bank pierced the wind. "Do you know him?" asked the Wabbit. "I thought the ghost was with you," replied Nessie. Lapinette had a moment of clarity. "He is always with us." The Wabbit found Nessie's spray invigorating and he soaked his scarf and wiped dust from his face. "So he must be our ghost." Nessie bellowed above the wind. "Does everyone get a ghost?" Lapinette spoke primly. "A ghost is a projection of the unconscious, a reality we disown." "No it's not," shouted the Centurion. The Wabbit half smiled but dust went down his throat. "You can always speak to a ghost." "Speak then," said Lapinette. But the ghost spoke first. "I came to guard you," he called. Then he vanished ...

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

3. The Wabbit and the Ghost Bullet

Lapinette and the Wabbit swept into the caffè but the red speckled wind got there first. Dust swirled in every cranny. The Wabbit called for drinks and got them - but he declined the sandy sandwiches. Without warning, the bartender slumped unconscious across the bar. Glasses and cups flew everywhere, but made not a single sound as they hit the floor. The Wabbit sipped his wine, pulled out his automatic and looked at Lapinette. Lapinette looked back. Their ears retracted slightly and they waited. Suddenly glasses and cups smashed noisily and there was a devastating crack as the mirror shattered. "That was a ghost bullet," said the Wabbit. Lapinette wrinkled her nose and picked some glass from her frock. "The bullet seemed real enough." The Wabbit pushed his automatic back in his fur and shrugged. "In popular folklore," he said, "a ghost bullet can only be fired by a ghost." The wind hammered the windows like a debt collector and the door creaked. Lapinette shivered. "Then we'd better find the ghost." The Wabbit had to think. "We need to know what kind of a ghost this is." Lapinette had no option but to join in. "A poltergeist?" Another glass smashed to the floor by her feet and a coffee cup flew past her head. "I don't think so," said the Wabbit, neatly dodging a whisky tumbler, "they don't come armed." The espresso machine burst into life and made coffee. "Deus ex machina?" sighed the Wabbit.