Father Pleasant and Professor Whateley Revisited
When it comes to travel, the only thing worse than dealing with a long flight is having a long drive right after. We live in a world of modern marvels, but Father Pleasant didn’t care. The airplane was a dump and now he arrives at Professor Whateley’s mansion in an Uber. How is this not a reminder of his station in life? He liked being a big fish in a small pond back in Midwich.
Father Pleasant made sure to tip the driver and thank his god that things weren’t worse because the priest had been through enough to know that they could be.
He stood there, at the front of the massive colonial-style house, its facade immaculate and beautiful, but he had been here before. He knew better. Inside from different entrances, this house was a mishmash of spires, cobble, and stucco, the Winchester Mystery House reimagined by John Waters and Count Dracula. Each facade entrance was amazing and beautiful in its own way, but once inside, the mansion was too twisted and dark to be funny and too silly and misshapen to be taken seriously.
Father Pleasant had known The Professor for quite some time. He knew The Professor’s history. He was the newest in a long line of crazy eccentrics which is why the house was the hodgepodge that it was. It was a combination of madman DIY and an “I don’t care what it looks like, just do it attitude” that had plagued the Whateley family for generations.
He walked up the slate steps, obviously one of the DIY projects. The uneven steps were cracked and spackled with dirt and moss as they wound back and forth to the door. The door was a large red medieval door with gold eastern studs flanked by scores if not hundreds of potted plants.
Father Pleasant grabbed the lion door knocker by the bull ring in its nose and gave it a thwack against its plating. The second it hit the door opened startling him.
Standing in the doorway is a short, black-haired, olive-skinned woman in her thirties. She was wearing a man’s suit, or more likely a boy’s suit.
“Jesus, Miss Galaz. You scared the you-know out of me,” Father Pleasant says to the woman. “How the hell did you get here so quickly?”
“I saw you coming on the camera system,” She answered without expression.
“Of course,” Father Pleasant responded while hand pressing his jacket, “the camera system. Cuz this place screams camera system. Are you sure it wasn’t a cauldron or some sort of bat-bird with an eye for a face that you can see through some sort of ancient tablet?”
“It is good to see you again, Father,” Miss Galaz said, stepping aside to let the priest in.
“It’s good to see you too, Miss Galaz.”
At her instruction, he hung his coat on a hook and started to follow her through the house.
“Please be sure not to touch anything, Father,” she said.
“I remember the rules.”
“They are not rules if you remember them. They are a reminder of how much you don’t want to touch anything,” she said with a bit of a smirk.
“Yeah, I remember that too,” Father Pleasant agreed. His first week here, years ago, resulted in more than one odd outcome from getting too handsy with some of the more rare objects.
He was lead through the painting-lined halls of the house, all dark wood, and lamps. Low lighting, just lamps, just as Father Pleasant remembered. As expected, he was lead into the conservatory where he and Miss Galaz found Charles and The Professor having a heated discussion.
The Professor was a slight man, older, with an air of education with a splash of “possibly a secret drug addict”. Charles, The Professors’ husband, was much younger and very much the old guys opposite. Charles was tall and broad, a powerhouse of a man with a European model’s face. In the corner of the conservatory Angelica, The Professor’s daughter sat reading a book. Father Pleasant and Angelica made eye contact and the priest gave her a fatherly wink to which she smirked a hello.
“Cotton!” The Professor called to Father Pleasant, “tell this two-ton twink that a Gibson has a pickled onion in it.”
“I’m a priest. I don’t know,” Father Pleasant responded.
“You’re a drunk and you know it,” The Professor retaliated.
“Not at the moment, I’m not,” Cotton said.
“Would you like me to get you a drink, Father?” Miss Galaz asked.
“Just a beer, please. I’m here on business.”
“Of course you’re here on business, Cotton,” Charles chimed in, “You haven’t been around at all for quite some time.”
“Business?” The Professor asked, “Not priest business I hope? You know how boring I find your belief system don’t you, Cotton?”
Miss Galaz handed Cotton an open beer as he responded, “I know you believe the important parts so, no, I am not here on priest business. I’m here on space goblin business.”
“Oh man, Cotton. You went and talked with that crazy old hick? What, did he trick you in with some moonshine or hooch?” The Professor accuses him.
“Moonshine and hooch are the same things,” Charles corrected The Professor. “And that nice man that you call a hick has a name.”
“Oh, Jesus. You’re going to say the name aren’t you?” The Professor griped.
“Mr. Charles Ray Connor James-Randal,” Charles said with no small amount of satisfaction.
“Stay out of this, I’m on a roll,” The Professor ordered.
“No, you’re drunk off of a Gibson,” Charles said. “One… single… Gibson,” he continued with a loving chuckle.
“Don’t you start with me… You see,” The Professor said with feigned irritation while holding his martini glass up to Charles’s face, “there is no little onion in here?”
“As old as you are, the Gibson is older, and there was a time that it had no… ‘little onion,’” Charles said.
“Cotton!” Harry yelled to him as he entered the room followed by Thelonious with a smile on his face. Harry was shirtless and shoeless, wearing only depressed jeans. Thelonious wore his robes as usual. Harry grabbed a bottle off the bar.
“Ah, Harry. Look who’s finally come to see us,” The Professor spoke up. “After all these years.”
“Right,” Harry said with a wink. “Hey, Cotton. We’re down in my room playing Mario and drinking if you wanna hang,” and with that, the odd pair of Harry and Thelonious left through the door they had entered.
Cotton turned to The Professor, “You know Harry and I play basketball at the church a few times a month, right?”
“What? Really?” The Professor asked, shocked.
“He’s on the Lions!” Cotton said with some irritation.
“Our basketball team. Our Church’s basketball team. How can you not know this?” Cotton asked.
“Harry goes to church?” The Professor asked with confusion.
“Oh, christ,” Cotton said deciding to chug his beer and get another instead of continuing the conversation.
“Who knew?” The Professor said with a shrug and turned to Charles. Charles pinched his shoulders conveying that he did, in fact, know. The professor turned to Miss Galaz who did the same conveying the same. “Figures,” The Professor said.
The arguments, discussions, banter, and possible slander eventually calmed down and Cotton finally showed The Professor the strange fruit that he had retrieved from the old mine at the edge of Billington’s Wood. The Professor held the fruit up to examine it in front of the light from the fireplace. His gaze grew deeper and deeper into the charm of the odd metallic fruit.
Father Pleasant pulled the fruit from The Professor’s hand, set it on the table, and put a napkin over it. The Professor shook his head shaking out the headache and fog.
“It does that,” Father Pleasant said.
“Yes it does,” The Professor responded while rubbing his temples. “What is it?”
Father Pleasant told The Professor and Charles the story of Buddy coming to him, of the mine, the goblins, and the fruit, but opted to leave out the part about the joint and the whiskey.
Angelica spoke up while she got up and walked over to the conversation, “so, every time someone stairs at this thing they get mesmerized?” she asked.
“Yeah, it’s like they lose themselves in thought just by looking too closely at it,” Cotton told her.
“Sounds like magic,” she said looking at the napkin covering the fruit.
“Yeah, I guess it does,” Father Pleasant responded.
“No, I mean, it sounds like it is caused by magic,” she clarified. “You should take it to Hemmy.”
“Who?” Father Pleasant asked.
“You know, the boy that was sweet on her when she was a kid,” Charles chimed in. “He’s a big scientist now. Particle accelerators up at the Grimley Labs in Willows. Would make a fine husband.”
“Jez,” Angelica responded with an eye roll. “Hemmy and I are friends.”
“I know that,” Charles continued, “You know that, but Hemmy has never known that.”
“Whatever,” she responded. “Listen, Cotton, I’ll take you up there to meet him. He’ll help you.”
“Of course he will,” Charles added with a smirk and an elbow nudge to Angelica.
“Plus,” Angelica continued, “I’ve had just about enough adventuring for a while. Dad and Charles are still chasing down some… thing from up in Bolton and I would just assume get as far away from that adventure as possible. Plus, I’ll be able to turn old Hemmy’s head while I’, there,” she said turning to Charles with a big grin.
“Didn’t I raise you better than to play such juvenile little girl games?” The Professor asked her.
“First of all,” Angelica turned to her dad with fun snark, “you’re only mad cuz, I’m guessing you were never good at playing the little girl games, and secondly, you didn’t raise me, Mom and Charles did.”
“Yeah well, the next kid I raise won’t have to suffer through the coddling of Charles and your mother. He’ll,” The Professor put a big accent on the “h” sound, ”be tougher and smarter.”
Angelica quickly responded, “Better save some of your riches for counseling then, cuz that poor bastards gonna need a lot of it,” to which Charles laughed.
The Professor immediately ignored her comment and continued the argument with Charles about “little onions” in Gibsons.
Next on Of Eons and Stars: This Ain’t The Planet of Sound
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