The Mid-Century Modern Annexe
Cotton followed Angelica. He heard the continued discussion of gibsons and onions fade away as the pair continued to walk through the colonial-style section of the house. Father pleasant had been here enough times to know that the house could change quickly. While initially, he had found the place magical, awe-inspiring even, enough time had gone by since he left that he now regarded it as a mess, an irritation, a general headache.
All that aside, his best times spent at Whateley Manor had taken place here in the colonial-style section, the section of the house they all affectionately referred to as Uncle Whateley’s House.
Father Pleasant had tried to explain the house before. It was to one of The Four Mystics on her first day watching over Harry, but Cotton couldn’t remember her name. At that initial orientation, while attempting to walk her through the architectural maze of the house, he had told her that the Whateley house was hard to elucidate and even harder to navigate. It was a house of magic and science that exists both outside and inside reality.
Here, at the Kingsport anterior, the house was a colonial-style home, earthy brown with white trim and well-manicured hedges, but this was one of many fronts. The house had many anteriors in many places, each represented by the time period that it was added on, or in some more mysterious cases, the time period that it was discovered.
The Whateley family would build additions onto the house in different towns and connect them, somehow. Cotton had never really gotten an answer as to how these rich fools had done it, but he assumed it was just like they did everything else, by messing with things they probably shouldn’t be messing with.
One of the more interesting fronts, at least of frontages that were reasonable to access, was a Googie style carwash in Southlend complete with jet age futuristic cantilevered roofs, starbursts, and hard angles. In fact, for some reason, the Whateley family had maintained a running carwash business there since the 1930s. Southlend Suds, or something disappointingly uncreative like that.
Cotton wasn’t sure what part of the house they were in now. It was pretty typical. He followed Angelica down a hallway and into a bedroom. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a key and stepped to the bedroom closet door and unlocked it. She gave him a plutonic wink and opened it. On the other side, they found a very unclimactic bedroom, stark-white and spartan.
“This is the Mid-Century Annexe. It was built in 1960 in Empire City,” She said leading him through.
“Where are we going?” Cotton asked.
“The Nertos Bratu Partnership,” She replied.
“The NBP?” Cotton said with some shock in his voice.
“Yeah It’s where Hemmy works now,” Angelica said in a tone conveying to cotton that Hemmy working for The Nertos Bratu Partnership was old news to everyone but him. “The NBP studies the relationship between science and magic.”
“I know who they are. I’m just surprised that you… that they, are… friendly?” He started to state, changing it to a question as he went.
She continued to lead him down the hall, not looking back as she responded. “Nah. They’re good guys now.”
Cotton pondered this new information for a second. In his day at the house, the NPB was always a headache trying to steal information and artifacts from the Whateley family. The Whateley family however had always viewed them as hack mystic wannabees. Being friendly with them now raised a lot of questions, but Cotton decided to tiptoe around it. “I thought you guys thought God’s an Astronaut?”
“And Oz is Over the Rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live?” Angelica responded with a dismissive wave of her hand as she hung a left into a kitchen area, also spartan and well lit with narrow track lighting.
“Yeah, something like that,” he responded. He knew that she was quoting a movie. When he lived at Whateley Manor, and Angelica was little, the two of them had horror movie parties. He had forgotten which movie she was referencing, but caught the connotation, that the Whateley family believed that everything pretend, or whispered about, was real. He knew that Angelica was a bit more of a pragmatist than her father, but how pragmatic can one be when living in a house with one door in the city and another in the country.
“I guess what I mean is are we addressing this as science, magic, spirituality, or what?” he asked.
“Given a few recent run-ins, I think it might be best to address everything as anything. I don’t know what is real and what’s what, but if science, magic, and spirituality all exist, why couldn’t one thing be all of the above? Speaking of which, my father has talked a little more openly about your past as I’ve gotten older and I can’t help but wonder, why are you still a priest? I mean, how can you still believe?”
“My understanding of the tunnel may have changed, but the light at the end didn’t. While some gods do end up being astronauts, there is one that is still beyond comprehension and the parts of me that are here today most certainly wouldn’t be without its assistance.”
“And you’re sure of that?”
“Hmmm, I guess a fair answer is, I’m as sure of that as I am sure of anything.”
“And that’s enough for faith?”
“Faith is a choice that is made over and over again,” Cotton said, both to Angelica and to his inner self.
“I like you Cotton,” she said. “I’m glad you came to visit, even if it was just to ask questions about a weird space fruit.”
“Of course I’m glad to see you to Angelica. Maybe the weird space fruit wasn’t my reason to come back but my excuse too.”
“I’ll accept that,” she said. “If only because I want to believe it.”
As they walked from the stark kitchen down another short stark hallway, the light changed from the almost fluorescence of the house to evening street lights They stood in the in The Mid-Century Modern Annexe’s living room looking out over an early-60s-style Empire City suburb, complete with modern fancy cars and a retiree picking up a pampered Maltese shit on the front lawn of the house.
“We’re in Empire city?” Cotton asked.
“Yup. Eberhart Hill. There’s a car in the garage. Hemmy’s work is about a thirty-minute drive upstate in Brambles.
“Can we get coffee on the way,” Cotton asked, his lack of alcohol, nicotine, and/or caffeine starting to weigh on him.
“I’ll drive, so you can put a shot in it if you want,” She said nonchalantly.
“I’m a priest, not a paster, and it’s well after five,” Cotton answered, feeling a bit judged.
They walked through the kitchen and into the garage where they find a black 1961 Lincoln Continental.
“Jesus, does he have one of these in every garage?” Cotton asked.
“He tries, but there are more garages than he can find this specific car for.”
Next on Of Eons and Stars: Gerontophilia
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