What Happened Next

See It First

Cookie?

 

The Do’s Series: Segment 34

 

© Grandpa Jim

 

 

 

At the kitchen table, She smiles to He at the counter. He lifts the glass carafe from the coffee maker and walks to where Sir Richard sits at the table across from She.

“More coffee?” He asks Richard.

“It is a curious drink.” The Count holds up his cup while He pours. “I grow fond of this ‘coffee’.” Richard waits until the cup is full. “Thank you. Thank you, He.” Richard cautiously takes a sip of the hot liquid. “Is that your name, He?”

“It is here.” He moves around the table, reaches and refills She’s cup.

“In the ThroneRoom, you were the Mysterious Stranger.”

“I was there. Here I am He, and my wife is She.”

“That is curious. Don’t you think so?”

“In this time, that is the convention we use. It is a long tradition between the two of us, and we would ask that you honor our wishes in this place.”

“Of course . . . He.” Sir Richard bows across the table. “And . . . She.”

She stands, moves to the swinging door and turns back to face the kitchen table. “There are certain things that need to be addressed, Sir Richard. He and I are in agreement. We feel you would be more comfortable if He initiates the discussion with just the two of you.” She pushes the door open. “The cookies on the plate are warm from the oven. Later. . . .” The door swings back and forth before quietly coming to a stop.

Sir Richard Geoffrey Ingelger of Jobs surveys the room. “This is your ‘kitchen’?”

“Our kitchen.”

“Of course. The kitchen of She and He.” Richard swivels his head. “All around me in the kitchen of He and She are appliances, the things of applied science — engineering at work.”

“As it was where you were before, Sir Richard.” He’s tone is flat and his face holds a frown.

“Precisely.” Richard Ingelger of Jobs raises a finger, turns the digit to point directly at his own chest, leans forward and pins He with the dark eyes. “And who am I in this place of appliances?”

“Could it be said?” He lifts and examines a cookie. “Could it be said that the repository and safeplace of good and evil is the common kitchen?”

“Hmmm.” Richard touches the edge of the cookie plate. “Yours is, I think, a reflection both on the applications of technology, which surround us and surrounded me, and the morality of properly applying those technological tools, a lesson whose final exam some would say I failed to pass.” Sir Richard raises a cookie. “May I?”

“Please.”

They chew in silence.

“This is good. Very good.” Richard finishes the last bite and runs his tongue over his lips. “What flavor is this, and what are the little dark bits?”

“You are enjoying a homemade chocolate chip cookie. The bits, as you call them, are the chocolate chips.”

“Wonderful.”

“She will be pleased that you like her cooking.”

“I fear many did not like my cooking or what my kitchen produced.”

“They did not.”

“What will happen with my discoveries, with my wonderful SCRUMP technologies?”

“The dwarf engineers, mentats and technicians at TopHouse under OverMountain are hard at work understanding those and the other things of your making.”

“Will it be said of their dwarf kitchen that it is a safeplace of good and not evil?” Sir Richard sighs deeply and waves a listless hand toward their surroundings. “Where are we? Where is this kitchen of She and He?”

“In any story, there are pieces and places that are never found.”

“If not where, when?”

“When in time? That is a good question. It is said there are Six Ages of time: the Age Before from which all things arise; the Long Ago of ancient knowledge; the Old Days of the great technologies; the New Days when The Do’s are spoken; the Time Again when the past is recovered; and the Here Are when time ceases to bear distinction.”

“Of these, when are we?”

“The Old Days.”

“And when was I?”

“The New Days.”

“LoveJoy KickStart, does she live?”

“She does.”

Sir Richard drums his fingers on the edge of the kitchen tabletop and stops. “Has she changed me?”

“Someone said, ‘I have to learn it to know how to do it’.”

“How would I do that?”

“I suggest some field work. To get your feet wet, so to speak, in the waters of time.”

“Field work?”

“There is a position open at one of the digs.”

“The digs?”

“That’s right. You would go to the Time Again and assist with the excavation work.”

“What is being excavated?”

“A story. In part, your story.”

“My story?”

“The things that happened in the New Days. The battles that were fought. Glue Days and New Bread. Everything to the point where and when you left. The excavations are moving beyond that.”

“Beyond?”

“Beyond your defeat. What happened next. You missed the wedding. TidBit McIntyre and DawnRunner StarBreak are Lord and Lady of the East Ridge. They were married in the roundabout. Everyone but you was there.”

“LoveJoy?”

“Hers was something of a surprise appearance.”

“She is an elusive and resourceful young lady, and her recruiting was quite effective. Witness the fact that I am out of a job.”

“You have a job, if you want it. At the digs. Excavating more of the story.”

“Why would I want to do that?”

“To discover what happened next.”

“But it can’t have happened yet.”

“Exactly. Now is the time to discover it before it happens.” He pauses. “I am serious when I say that this is a way for you to learn it in order to know how to do it. I really think this is a great opportunity for you.”

The door swings open. She enters, picks up the hot carafe and pours herself a cup. “Can I freshen anyone’s coffee?”

“Please.” Sir Richard holds out his cup and catches her eye. “You realize your husband is mad?”

“He is a mysterious person.” She sets the carafe down. “If not a little mad.”

“Do you think I should do this dig thing?” Sir Richard carefully sips his coffee and watches She take a seat.

“You might learn something you don’t know.” She straightens the cookie plate on the table. “Isn’t there something you would like to find out?”

Sir Richard rests his chin in a hand, nods slowly, leans back and raises a finger. “I would like to find the StarShine of SeedStone, the prize of the dangersands of the deepdesert.”

“Is it a precious thing?” She touches the rim of her cup.

“Extremely so,” the Count answers. “It is what LoveJoy traded to defeat my SCRUMP programming.”

“I wonder,” He interjects. “Where did TidBIt find that gem?”

“I do not know.” Sir Richard sets a hand on the table. “I would like to know, and I would like to discover where the SeedStone is now. . . .”

“Sir Richard,” He exclaims. “You may not return to the New Days. By The Do’s, I am bound to allow you no access to that age.”

“I do not need to return to the New Days to discover what I seek. If what you say is correct, the information is in the digs. The location of the SeedStone can be discovered in the Time Again.” Sir Richard slaps the tabletop with both hands. “By The Do’s, I accept your offer. I will go to work and excavate that which I seek.”

He stares at the space across the table between Sir Richard and She. He opens his mouth, starts to speak, then stops and closes his mouth.

After some moments, She rattles her cup in its saucer. “Would you two like to watch an old movie?”

“Sure.” He shifts out of his reverie. “Which one?”

“Joe Versus The Volcano,” She suggests.

“I know that show.” Richard is excited. “Well, parts of it. Only snippets survive in my time. Do you have the segment where Joe jumps into the volcano?”

“We have the whole show.” She stands, walks to the counter and sets her cup down.

“It is credited by some to be the start of The Do’s.” Sir Richard is speaking quickly. “There was no written agreement, only an oral promise. Joe stood by that verbal promise, and he jumped into the volcano.”

At the door, She turns back to the two men. “Have another cookie. I’ll go into the next room and queue up the show.”

Richard and He select cookies and chew slowly in silence.

“I never did see that part where Joe jumps.” Richard pushes his chair back, stands and stretches his arms into the air.

He laughs. “We both need to get out of the kitchen.” He stands, crosses to the door and pushes it open. “She has good ideas. A movie is just the thing.”

“It will be good to see what really happened.”

“Exactly my point, Richard. It is better to see it first. Isn’t that why you’re going to the digs?”

“Yes.” Richard passes by He who holds the door. “I’m going there to see it first. To see what happened next.”

“Precisely.” He turns to follow Richard, releasing the door behind them. “Why, without that, you wouldn’t be where you are right now.”

“I wouldn’t?” Sir Richard’s voice echoes back through the swinging door.

“You would not.” The door swings quietly shut, muffling their voices. “Why, who knows where you’d be?”