a short story
"Tell me I'm right, lover."
"No! You're being unfair."
"Admit I'm right or we'll just stay out here all night."
"Please baby darling honey apple of my eye we're out in the middle of nowhere this is no time to get snippy at me!"
"Snippy? Snippy! You're the one who can't appreciate me! I try and try so hard!"
"I know baby-"
"No you don't know!"
"I give you everything you need and this is the thanks I get?"
"And don't call me your baby! I hate that!"
Tony-Ray Simon stood there in front of her, whispering into the cold brisk air, leaning on his cane. She could only hear him when he whispered. His small antlers felt cold. His short red hair bristled in the wind. His prehensile tail wagged back and forth in frustration. It was dark. He thought he heard something. It was a desolate highway somewhere between Dallas and Texarkana. He didn't even know where. He forgot to bring his Mapsco. Usually she knows where she's going. She wouldn't even let him look under her hood to see what was wrong.
"Will you just let me-"
"NO! You remember what happened the last time."
"Are you going to bring that up again?"
"You never even said you were sorry."
"How was I supposed to know that wasn't where to put the oil!?"
"You don't know the first thing about me, Tony. What makes me tick. How I work. I'm not going to ever let you touch anything under my hood ever again!"
He looked about him and the trees surrounding them. The moonless, cloudy night sky. "There's no one else here hon."
"Then I'll just sit and rust then."
"That's not an option for either of us and you know it."
"There are books you know."
"I do have a manual. You can read, can't you?"
"When did you learn sarcasm, Alex?" He suddenly heard heavy breathing. He spinned around towards the woods but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Then it was gone. "You hear that, love?"
"I d-didn't hear anything."
He inhaled sharply and listened to the near silence. Beyond the wind whistling through the trees there was no sound. Then she sputtered a bit. "I need the flashlight," he pulled his keys out of his pocket and went for the door.
She wouldn't open.
"I need the flashlight, hon."
"I'm mad at you."
"So I've noticed." He looked around again. There was no moonlight. He could barely see more than shadows and blackness all around. There was a solitary streetlight very far away, and Tony's thoughts drifted to Twohey, and how she can turn sound into light and light into sound. That would be a handy ability to have now. She would sing a song and then covert it into colors. She was wonderful. But he said the wrong thing at the wrong time, and she was gone. He looked back at Alex. He had a tendency of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
"Where you going?"
Tony walked away from his Honda Civic and towards the trees.
"Don't leave me out here! I swear I'll drive myself into town!"
"I'm going to talk to the trees. Is that alright with you?"
"Now you know where I learned sarcasm."
"From you, you silly pookah."
He jumped the small dry ravine and walked up to the trees. His whispers addressed them now, "Oh great oak and pine. Great elm and willow reaching to the sky. I seek your knowledge and wisdom. I seek your solace."
"Who speaks to us now? We have not recieved such kind words in so long." The voice came from a tall and thick oak tree, the largest among the tree line.
"It is I. Antonio Reymaldo Simon of the Pookahs Changeling."
"Ah.. Forgive this tired old soul. I am not as young as I once was. How can I be of assistance?"
"I heard a sound. Was it the wind, or does someone hide under your canopy and the canopy of night?"
"There be a Were here. And there be a Bled. They were chasing one another when you approached, and are presently contemplating what to do."
He sighed. Not again, he thought. They're all over the place nowadays, "Do they mean to eat me?"
The trees thought for what felt a long moment. Tony thought he heard rustling in the trees, but could not tell if it was the wind or something else. "No", said the trees finally, "The Were is a kind soul, though not very talkative. The Bled finds you of little interest, and his eyes are seeking out the Were."
Tony knew he could probably take out one or the other, if there was light. He'd never battled a Were, but he'd stared down a Bled or two in his time. In this darkness he would be no match for either of them.
"May I ask a boon of thee?"
"Generally we do not interfere in the ways of their kind,"
"I understand. Thank you for your time," Tony turned away.
Tony looked back.
There was a pause. "Bless this little one."
Some lower branches parted and moved to the side, in a way that no human would ever see in the light of day. Behind them was revealed in the very dim light, a small pine tree.
"I-I do not understand. I'm not a priest. I'm surely no mage. I'm but a pookah changeling surviving in the Banal world of the mundanes."
"It is knowledge that is passed from seedling to seedling. It is known that pookahs can bless us trees and encourage them to grow and raise their branches to the heavens."
"I don't recall ever learning of such, and I am one."
"It is not widely known, and your Elders do not share this wisdom for they do not wish it. Were anyone to learn of your act, you would be chided and reprimanded."
Tony looked up at the trees and around him. "You're not kidding me are you? Forgive my impertinence, but you wouldn't kid a kidder.. Would you?"
"How'm I supposed to bless this small tree?"
"I don't want him to."
"Hush small one."
"It's gonna be gross!"
"You will allow this rare precious pookah to bless you and you will like it."
"It's gonna smell."
"It will be good for you."
Tony's tail reached up and scratched him on the head, "What do you want me to do?"
"He wants you to pee on me but you don't have to."
"A pookah's relief is golden. That is widely known among us wood."
"You want me.. to pee on this tree?"
"And we will protect you from the Were and the Bled."
"And you say this is something that can cause me trouble with my own kind, when I've never even heard of this before?"
"Only a little trouble."
"Don't pee on me. He's an old senile tree don't listen to him."
"They'll probably never find out."
"Yes they will."
Tony turned around and tripped on his own shins, falling back against the tall oak tree's trunk, and landing on his tail. Standing before him were the silhoettes of a werewolf and a vampire. He could smell them better than he could see them. They were both wounded. The blood fresh. Apparently they had come to some sort of truce while he spoke to the tree. Tony unsheathed his swordcane, aimed it at them, and tried to stand up but the surprise was causing difficulty between his brain and his legs. He suddenly began shaking.
"Thanks for the heads up, oak. Why didn't you warn me?" He managed to place his feet beneath him, crouching with bended knees.
"Sorry. I wasn't paying attention. The thought of a sapling being blessed by a Pookah is overwhelming."
"Don't do it." It was the low grave voice of the werewolf.
"Let's eat him!" The vampire chortled, "I'll take his blood you take the rest."
"Yeah! Eat him! He was gonna pee on me!"
"If you desecrate this sacred ground with your urine I will have your head, changeling."
Tony stood up to face them. "Look hairy, you damn near had me pee in my pants just now. What's the big idea sneaking up on me like that?"
"We know you're stranded here. We heard you whispering to your car!" Tony heard the Bled smack his lips, but could only barely see the fangs in the pale light.
"We've decided to put aside our petty differences and eat you if you desecrate this ground."
"Hey! You said nothing about conditions. You just looked at me and motioned me to join you here! I thought we were gonna just eat him!" The vampire lunged for Tony and brushed aside his blade. The werewolf grabbed him from behind and threw him down.
"Leave here Garou! This doesn't concern you!"
"Any desecration of the Mother concerns me!"
"By the gods, Hairy! It's just pee!" Tony shouted.
"Have you any idea what happens when a pookah pees on a sapling?" the werewolf growled.
The vampire got back up and shoved into the were, "What's the big idea?" The were shoved back. Then the vampire and the were clawed into one another. Tony had to duck to avoid the vampire's swing.
"The victor gets the pookah! How about that?"
"Sounds good to me."
"Bless the sapling pookah, and we will protect you!"
"Screw that. I'll protect myself." Tony-Ray Simon jumped straight into the air from his crouching position, and grabbed a branch twenty feet above them.
"Alexis!" T-Ray whispered as loud as he could.
"Yes?" was the reply.
He had his sword cane in his right hand and was holding on tenuously with his left. "I'm sorry."
"What? I didn't quite hear that."
"You heard me."
"Say it again. And mean it this time."
The branch began to crackle.
"How dare you deny us the blessing!"
Oh shit. "I'm sorry!" he whispered. "I'm really, really, really, really-"
He could feel the branch breaking.
"REALLY really very sorry. Soon as we get back I'll read your car manual. I'll learn how better to care for you. Honest."
"Oh I don't care about that."
"What is it then?"
"Admit I'm right."
The tree branch cracked again, He fell a couple feet and almost lost his hold. A few more seconds and it would give way.
"Alright fine you're right. Beach Boys are better than Led Zepplin."
"Thank you, lover."
The 1989 Honda Civic roared to life, and her headlights screamed into the blinding blackness, surprising both the werewolf and the vampire. The tree branch gave way. With a high pitched rallying cry, Tony fell twenty feet down, his swordcane in one hand, and the tree branch in the other. Though it was a bloody mess, he managed to skewer the werewolf with his blade, and the tree branch took out the vampire with a cloud of dust.
"BLESS THE SAPLING, DAMN YOU!"
Tony was breathing heavy, the adrenaline rush made him feel giddy and disoriented. He looked up and saw the headlights of his Honda Civic coming towards him. She missed him by mere inches.
She took out the sapling, "That ougtta shut him up."
"He was a spoiled brat. Shut up or I'll do the same to you. Coming lover?"
"Full reverse, Alex! NOW!"
"Woah!" Alex backed up as another tree branch fell inches away from her bumper. She stopped just before the small ravine. Tony pulled the blade out of the unconscious werewolf, grabbed the sheath for his sword and made a bee-line for Alex. He could hear the trees screaming and crying out in pain at their impertinence. Tony dived into the passenger side window, which Alex had conveniently rolled down for him.
"Go! Go, honey, go!"
She did a 180 and got them back on the road. They were going almost forty miles an hour before he could climb back behind the wheel.
"Did you really mean it?"
"Absolutely. Beach Boys are better than Led Zepplin."
"No I mean about your being sorry."
Tony reached over to the glove compartment, and pulled out the car manual. "I'll start reading it right now if you wanna drive us into the city." He flicked on the overhead light and opened the cover.
The light flickered out, "No that's alright. I trust you. You can at least get to a hotel, first. You better take over driving in case a cop drives by."
"Good thinking," Tony put the manual on the passenger side seat, grabbed the wheel, and placed his foot on the accelerator. He glanced out the window to see the treeline fading back behind them and replaced by cornfields. One thought kept burning in his mind that he couldn't figure out.
"What happens when a pookah pees on a sapling?"
"I haven't the slightest idea."