Stuck in a rut

Started by Calixto at Apr 19, 2020 5:11 AM
January 9, 1924
735 Views
38 Posts

Alafair Corbin

Club Singer, ex-Nurse
46
?Years Young
15 Posts

Alafair gave Baron Tarazona a level look, "I was in the US Army Nurse Corps during the war," she answered honestly. "After the war, I went back to working on a music career. I still keep my nursing certificate up-to-date," she added.

She approached the front of the car and leaned over, inspecting some of the connections, wires, and spark plugs. Truthfully, the majority of her maintenance on her car was no more complicated than changing its oil, rotating tires, and making sure the fluids were topped off. Alafair was familiar enough with her own vehicle to keep from being rooked by crooked mechanics when she took the car in for services that she could not do herself. After all, none of it was rocket science.

Finally, Allie leaned down to look at the battery's filler caps. She stepped back from the car, "I can't be sure, of course, not familiar with this model, but I think your battery is dead. Several of the cells are dry." She indicated the filler caps where he and Ho could view the electrolyte levels. "Chances are, the battery is as dead as a doornail. You'll probably need a new one."


Calixto

Barón y Tarazona
190
?Years Young
17 Posts

"There are even rumors that we are descended from Hatuey, an early Taíno chief of Cuba, but that, my dear lady, is an entirely ridiculous hypothesis."


When the tall woman informed him that she had been a nurse in the Great War, the Baron’s discrete “I understand” was stated with an inflection which indicated that he did more than simply comprehend the profession that she had followed in those tumultuous 19 months, when America had joined in the fight against the Central Powers. One did not crassly delve into such experiences with a virtual stranger.

This ‘battery’ on the other hand, was quite a puzzle to him. That, he did not understand. He could not even berate Ho about it; for a start, he wasn’t even sure what the Spanish word for it was (batería, as in an artillery battery? Who knew?), let alone in the rudimentary Chinese that his chauffeur preferred being berated in. Besides, it was a hired car, so the whole affair was not really the hapless Chinaman’s fault anyway, not that such a fact was really a consideration in the matter.

“This ‘battery’, perhaps we have a spare? We have a spare wheel.” The Baron offered unhelpfully. “I will tell Ho to look in that little … cupboard at the rear of the vehicle, where he usually puts the picnic basket.” The Baron himself wouldn’t have known what to look for, even though he was looking at the same engine as Alafair, it was all just one confusing jumble of oily metal to his eyes.

He turned to the chauffeur and was somewhat startled to see how close he was hovering just behind them. The baron pointed vaguely to the back of the motor with his stick and loudly ordered “去找 … er... battery!”

Ho gave a deep bow, infused with oriental gravity, and intoned back the words of the Baron as if they were the most profound utterances of Lao Tzu himself.

   … Ba-tte-ry”

If nothing else, it was remarkable that he did not confound the pronunciation of the T and the L, as so many of his fellow countrymen were prone to do with unintentional comic effect, but then, there were good reasons for that.

 


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Alafair Corbin

Club Singer, ex-Nurse
46
?Years Young
15 Posts

Gracie could hardly believe this guy. She grinned and had all she could do to not laugh out loud.

"Nobody keeps extra batteries in their cars," she observed with amusement.

Looking from the baron to the Chinaman, Alafair shook her head and pointed to the battery. "This supplies the electricity to your starter and a few other things." She had figured out that getting too technical, even if she had a thorough understanding of how it all functioned, would probably be lost on her hapless audience.

"It's likely the engine stuttered or stalled, and there wasn't enough juice in the battery to restart the engine. You'll have to send your mechanic out with a new one. They aren't usually part of the spares in a car like tires are."

"No kiddin'," Gracie added, still bemused by it all.

Alafair hoped her explanation helped, "For now, we should move your personal items to the trunk of my car, and we'll give you lift back to Miami." She had decided that neither man seemed to be the dangerous sort. At least, they did not seem inclined to attack two women who were just enjoying a drive in the country. "Just," she waved at the man's car, "don't let them try to tell you it was anything you've done. Whoever services your car is the one that should've noted all the fluid levels."


Calixto

Barón y Tarazona
190
?Years Young
17 Posts

"There are even rumors that we are descended from Hatuey, an early Taíno chief of Cuba, but that, my dear lady, is an entirely ridiculous hypothesis."


The Baron listened to Alafair’s explanation of what was wrong with the car with a look of intense concentration on his face, indicating his interest in, and understanding of, her words with an occasional grave nod.

“So, this Battery starts the engine. Yes, I see.” He repeated back, possibly to show he was both listening and that he understood what she was talking about.

“Well, this certainly explains why we could not find the starting handle.” He reflected. They had thought it a small miracle when Ho had started the motor by just pulling out the choke and turning the ignition.

“It is so very kind of you to offer us a ‘lift’ back into the city” he bowed “I would be most honored. Ho, however, will remain with the automobile.” At that he snapped his fingers and pointed with his stick to the trunk of the car. The chauffeur sprang to the storage space, and brought forth a small leather attaché case, which seemed to be the sole item of luggage.

“Ah yes, my research documents!” explained the Baron, taking possession of the case with as much care as a person being handed a new-born baby. He looked around at the deserted but slightly sinister and threatening countryside around them. “You know, ladies, it is my sincere hope that both Ho and the Motor will still be here when the garage owners, from whom I hired this rather useless piece of transportation, arrive out here. But this … THIS” he cooed as he lovingly caressed the collection of documents “… I can take no risks with!”  


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Grace (Gracie) Stroud

Waitress
292
?Years Young
107 Posts

The song is done. The melody lingers on. You and the song are gone. But the melody lingers on.


"Yeah, that it does, mister," Gracie smiled when the man finally got the whole point of the battery being a necessity for the car.

This foreigner was more clueless about automobiles than Gracie was about geometry and it was definitely quite the source of amusement to the young blonde. His driver was no better but then he was a Chinaman so what could be expected. Alafair was being really nice to them though, now offering to drive them back into the city. Gracie was silently impressed.

Not surprising the foreigner accepted though decided his driver would need to stay behind while he left with the ladies. Seemed a bit unfair, who was gonna steal a car that didn't work?

“You know, ladies, it is my sincere hope that both Ho and the Motor will still be here when the garage owners, from whom I hired this rather useless piece of transportation, arrive out here. But this … THIS” he cooed as he lovingly caressed the collection of documents “… I can take no risks with!”  

"Just tell him not to play with the gators....alligators," she quipped.

The man was sure possessive of that leather briefcase of his, like it held diamonds or gold or something. Research documents he said though.

"Research for what, robbin' a bank?" she asked, kidding  (mostly).

Alafair grinned at Gracie's comment, but truthfully, she was rather curious also. She turned to head back toward her car, pausing briefly by Ho, "You should be safe enough if you stay by the car and don't wander off," she told him, hoping he understood the meaning as she gestured toward the hired car. "We should get on the road."

 


Calixto

Barón y Tarazona
190
?Years Young
17 Posts

"There are even rumors that we are descended from Hatuey, an early Taíno chief of Cuba, but that, my dear lady, is an entirely ridiculous hypothesis."


"Just tell him not to play with the gators....alligators," she quipped.

Calixto greeted this advice with a grave nod. “Thank you Miss Stroud. If I knew the Chinese word for Alligator, I would indeed pass on your sage advice. Dragon is Long, like in Oolong, perhaps that will do.” But, despite his serious demeanor, the Spaniard must have been joking, for he made no effort to put this into action. Instead he opened and peeped inside the case, just to make sure everything really was in there. “Ah, yes. All the research is safe!” he murmured to himself.

"Research for what, robbin' a bank?" she asked, kidding  (mostly).

The handsome Baron glanced up at Gracie, his deep brown eyes fixing her baby blues for an instant. No words, it seemed, were needed. That was the Baron’s answer to that.

Alafair grinned at Gracie's comment, but truthfully, she was rather curious also. She turned to head back toward her car, pausing briefly by Ho, "You should be safe enough if you stay by the car and don't wander off," she told him, hoping he understood the meaning as she gestured toward the hired car.

Ho brought the heels of his jackboots together in a sort of salute to the lady, bowed stiffly and bellowed in a strangely artificial sing song voice “我將在汽車旁等候,與所有揚子鱷作鬥爭!

He dragged out the last two syllables of this incomprehensible gibberish, the dòu starting high, then plummeting downwards in pitch like a barnstorming biplane, then the zhēng flying smoothly along on a straight line forever towards the horizon.

The Baron looked very taken with this odd performance, shaking his head in apparent admiration and exhaling a little cry of “Excellent!” under his breath.

"We should get on the road."

Alafair’s words broke the strange hitch-hiker out of his reverie like the snap of a stage hypnotist’s fingers. “Ah, of course. But… er…” he looked at the red motor somewhat perplexed “What, may I ask, is the exact etiquette for this situation? I have never been offered a ‘lift’ by two young ladies before. Is it accepted that I sit in the front or the back of the vehicle … or indeed, should I offer to drive and you ladies sit in the rear? I am quite at a loss!”


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Alafair Corbin

Club Singer, ex-Nurse
46
?Years Young
15 Posts

Alafair's eyes widened slightly when the Baron suggested he might drive. She almost gasped at the thought of the man driving her beloved red Duesenberg. After all, he seemed fairly clueless when it came to automobiles. Of course, she knew people that could drive but had no idea how a car actually worked. Still....

Gracie blinked and glanced at her friend, looking a bit taken aback. HE wanted to drive now? But it wasn't her car, it was Alafair's.

"You and Gracie can decide who sits in front and who goes in the back. I will drive since I am familiar with my car and where we are going," Allie's southern drawl softened some of the consonants, giving her speech an almost lyrical sound. It suddenly occurred to her that the man might not want to go to Miami.

Silently agreeing with the woman's decision to drive her own car, Gracie chimed in, "I imagine you'll want to sit in back. Like you did with your driver."

Big shots sat in the back after all.

 

"Hmmm, Baron," Allie could not help it, she had to ask, "exactly how should we address you? Mister? Señor? First name? Which, by the way, you can call me Alafair or Allie. And are you okay with going to Miami? I mean, with the direction your car is aimed, it seems you were not going in that direction. We were going to turn around in another few miles and head back to the city."


Calixto

Barón y Tarazona
190
?Years Young
17 Posts

"There are even rumors that we are descended from Hatuey, an early Taíno chief of Cuba, but that, my dear lady, is an entirely ridiculous hypothesis."


“Silently agreeing with the woman's decision to drive her own car, Gracie chimed in, "I imagine you'll want to sit in back. Like you did with your driver."

“Excellent!” smiled the Baron, although one couldn’t hep thinking that he would have condescended with equal grace had he been asked to ride on the hood of the engine. He made no move himself, but indicated with his stick that Ho could be of service and the Chinese man, instinctively comprehending the instruction, darted forward to open first the driver’s door for Alafair, then the front passenger side door for Gracie, and finally the rear passenger door for the noble scion of an old  Spanish house.

"Hmmm, Baron," Allie could not help it, she had to ask, "exactly how should we address you? Mister? Señor? First name? Which, by the way, you can call me Alafair or Allie. And are you okay with going to Miami? I mean, with the direction your car is aimed, it seems you were not going in that direction. We were going to turn around in another few miles and head back to the city."

The Baron listened intently to these questions then replied with a nonchalant shrug, as he settled into the back seat of the car.

“Thank you Miss ‘Allie’, this is all so very kind. In answer to your first question, commoners are technically allowed to address me as Excelentísimo or Don Tarazona, but to be honest, most of my American friends just call me Baron. As for directions, I happen to have taken a small hacienda in old quarter of Miami, so that would be quite perfect a destination for me.” he oozed. It was difficult to tell whether he was being quite serious or slightly laughing at himself in all this pomposity.

Then something on the back seat seemed to catch his eye, and he snatched up the object; it made a plinking sound as he lifted it up to view. It was a ukulele. “Ah! What is this tiny little guitar? One of you is a musician, perhaps?” he said, examining the simple en vogue musical instrument with no little interest.


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Alafair Corbin

Club Singer, ex-Nurse
46
?Years Young
15 Posts

The man took being turned down as driver without noticeable annoyance and was also quite content with sitting in the back seat too when Gracie suggested the arrangement. Alafair was still uncertain as how to address the man. Gracie listened to the choices and was glad to settle on Baron. Easy to pronounce unlike that long Spanish title.

"Okey dokey, Baron," she nodded with a smile and since Alafair repeated her name she figured she should do the same, "Gracie is fine for me."

As the Baron was clambering into the back seat he suddenly produced of all things, a ukelele. Gracie hadn't even noticed it was back there but then she hadn't had any reason to look back there earlier. Turned out it wasn't Alafair's.

Alafair looked at the instrument and shook her head. It had to be Grace's or someone else that had been in the car. "I am the singer at Club Lorelei," she answered, "but I only play the piano and the guitar. I guess," Allie added doubtfully, "the ukulele is similar to a guitar. Never tried to play one, though. Is it yours, Gracie?" She asked the younger woman as she settled into the driver's seat.

"No hon, I mean I think you would have seen me bring a ukelele along when you picked me up," she pointed out with amusement.

"And the only musical instrument I can play is a phonograph," she quipped. Johnnie had even bought her some jazz recordings back in happier times.

 

 

 


Calixto

Barón y Tarazona
190
?Years Young
17 Posts

"There are even rumors that we are descended from Hatuey, an early Taíno chief of Cuba, but that, my dear lady, is an entirely ridiculous hypothesis."


“Okey Dokey Baron? Hm!” the grandee ruminated to himself while he toyed with the instrument, trying out the dissonant open strings: high, low, medium and high again in tone.

Alafair looked at the instrument and shook her head. It had to be Grace's or someone else that had been in the car. "I am the singer at Club Lorelei," she answered,

The Baron nodded in appreciation. So, he was in the company of a chanteuse! How scandalous! His Father would be spinning in his grave, but how his mother would have laughed.

"but I only play the piano and the guitar. I guess," Allie added doubtfully, "the ukulele is similar to a guitar. Never tried to play one, though. Is it yours, Gracie?" She asked the younger woman as she settled into the driver's seat.

"No hon, I mean I think you would have seen me bring a ukelele along when you picked me up," she pointed out with amusement.

“Ah, but surely you can play such a thing, Miss Gracie; I am reliably informed that all young Americans can play the ukulele and compete in dance marathons for days on end.” he gently teased the young blonde.

"And the only musical instrument I can play is a phonograph," she quipped. Johnnie had even bought her some jazz recordings back in happier times.

The Baron laughed. It was a generous laugh, considering his usual demeanor of faux-gravitas.

“Oh, this looks far simpler to operate than one of those wind-up torture devices!” he cooed to the wooden box as his fingers, his beautifully manicured fingers testing the frets. Indeed, the shellac discs of the day, recorded completely acoustically, the grooves in the wax being cut directly by the harsh vibrations of the stentorian voices of the likes of Billy Murray 'The Denver Nightingale', still struggled to produce the rich tones of live music performances.

 “Yes, it is just like the top four strings of your guitar, Miss Alfie, a touch higher in pitch, perhaps” he wondered aloud, trying out a few chords. The first few were major chords, gay and bright; the next were in a minor strain and, even played on the cheap and tinny uke, struck a profoundly melancholy mood.

Suddenly, to the rudimentary plinking of the ukulele (and without fair and decent warning) the Baron began to serenade the two women who had come to his rescue with the first song that came into his head:

¯ Roses are shining in Picardy,

In the hush of the silver dew,

Roses are flow'ring in Picardy,

But there's never a rose like you.

And the roses will die with the summertime,

And our roads may be far apart,

But there's one rose that dies not in Picardy,

'Tis the rose that I keep in my heart ¯

He didn’t have a professional singing voice, of course, but his light and plaintive tenor was bolstered by the charm of his accent, which flowered curiously stronger when he sang. As he finished the sad and tearful air of yesteryear, he emerged as if from a trance. “Oh, Miss Corbin, I am … sorry.” he fumbled, quickly putting the instrument back on the seat where he had found it.


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