“Oh, thank the heavens, we’re home!” I exclaimed as I walked in the doorway. As if dealing with half a dozen fear mongers spread across campus hadn’t been exhausting enough, we had to stay extra to deal with the paperwork about the damage caused during the mayhem too! Luckily for me, Manuel had the difficult undertaking of phrasing some of the details so that the school’s insurance would cover our claims, and I was impressed that he was able to explain how a robot ripped off Phoebe’s door and a net sprouted from Ginger’s ceiling without making us sound like we fell off the deep end! I decided to forgo putting too much contemplation into that subject or anything else connected to Damon’s devious scheme- it was Friday night, and I felt certain that supervising prom tomorrow was bound to be a disaster of epic proportions thanks to our petulant phantom, so tonight was the only opportunity we had to relax! Or at least I thought relaxation was in the cards…
Blaise hollered at Miriam, “What did you do with my lighter?”
Miriam shouted back to him, “I didn’t do anything with it! It’s around here somewhere!”
“Oh, it’s somewhere! That’s helpful!” Blaise yelled.
“It’s a little hard to find something when you got someone screaming at you!” Miriam vociferated.
I half kidded to Phoebe, “Let’s go back to work!” With all of the pandemonium at Rosemary King, I had forgotten that my house was no longer a place of refuge! So much for taking it easy before the upcoming dance!
Phoebe suggested to Blaise, “Maybe you left it outside since you’re not allowed to smoke inside.”
“But I used it in your bathroom recently!” Blaise saw our unpleasantly surprised faces, so he clarified, “I lit some candles ‘cause you were all out of the spray!”
“It doesn’t smell like you lit any candles recently!” I caught wind of the odor after he mentioned it, and as I plugged my nose, I bitterly noted that most people could use the facilities without causing that much of their scent permeating throughout an entire building! “Well, we don’t need to worry about dinner since I’ve now lost my appetite!”
Phoebe disagreed with me, “No, we need to go to the store and grab some food! Then we can get some more deodorizer too!” She stared at me with wide eyes, and I got the hint that she wanted an excuse to get out of this scene for a while. Normally, I’d dread a shopping trip after such an exhaustive day, but even having a few minutes of quiet during the car ride there sounded like a better option than the disarray happening here, so I consented. However, prior to us even reaching the knob leading to our exit, the doorbell rang! “Don’t answer it!” Phoebe beseeched me.
I questioned her request, “Uh, don’t we kinda have to?”
“No, we don’t!” she disputed. “We don’t need anymore visitors! Regardless of what they’re asking for, it’ll force us to add to the crap we’ve already had to deal with, and I’m in no mood to tackle anything else other than a stiff drink!”
“What if it’s a police officer or somebody else with emergency information?” I countered her as the doorbell rang again. I peeked through the peephole, and I got a vigorous shock when I beheld who had come calling! “Oh no!”
Phoebe emphatically emphasized to me, “See? I told you we don’t wanna answer it!”
I dismally responded, “Yes, but I’m afraid in this case, we have to!” I opened the door and revealed my parents standing in the mudroom!
“Is this a bad time?” my mother inquired.
“I lit the candles recently, but I couldn’t cover up the stench when I went a few minutes ago ‘cause I couldn’t find my dang lighter!” Blaise barked at Phoebe and me.
I cringed, and then I replied to my mom, “What gave you that impression?” I invited them to enter, and they hesitantly accepted.
Blaise finally caught on that we had guests, so he introduced himself, “Hi! I’m Phoebe’s stepdaddy!”
“For the record, he married my mom when I was twenty-one, so he played no part in my upbringing,” Phoebe informed my folks.
“Is that your mom or your younger sister?” my dad playfully joked as he spotted Miriam joining us.
Miriam cracked a bit of a smile, which I reckoned was the first time she had done so since she arrived in Terra Belle, and she amiably reacted, “Hmm, now I see where Connor gets his sense of humor!” Everyone but Blaise chuckled, and for a brief instance, I actually enjoyed our little family reunion! I wished that it would remain this way during the entire duration, but I knew it wasn’t fated to last!
My mother held up some food storage bins and posed to the group, “Well, we brought dinner! Who’s hungry?”
Blaise patted his stomach and let her know, “Yeah, I recently cleared some room for some grub!”
Phoebe and I winced at his remark, and my parents politely grinned, but it was obvious that they were rather put off by his crudeness. My mother readily volunteered to microwave the meal, and my father reluctantly sate at our small table. I felt awful that we were situated in a manner that forced either him or my mom to sit next to Blaise, and apparently my dad begrudgingly opted to bite the bullet and spare his wife from that displeasure. Blaise gazed at him peculiarly, but my father chose to ignore that and courteously regarded him and Miriam, “I’m William, incidentally. And that lovely lady in the kitchen is Katherine.” My mom gave a cordial nod as she prepared the repast.
“Well, hello Mister and Missus Incidentally!” Blaise addressed them. “As I said before, I’m Blaise. Blaise Casimer. And this is my little woman, Miriam.” Miriam meekly waved at them, and then Blaise conversed, “So, do y’all live close to this neck of the woods?”
“Actually, we drove here from Philly,” my dad reported, and I almost got lulled into a false sense of security over this situation, but then my father made an enquiry that filled Phoebe and me with dread… “Where did you guys come from?”
I grabbed Phoebe’s hand, and we both braced ourselves for the chaos that was sure to erupt as Blaise commenced in detailing the odd goings-on which occurred in his cult, but to our astonishment, Blaise didn’t advert to their commune! “Well, we were living on a ranch in North Carolina, but now we’re looking to settle our roots somewhere else next.”
Phoebe and I exchanged puzzled expressions. Yes, we were relieved that he didn’t embarrass us with his unusual history, but it struck as bizarre that he didn’t seize the opening to present facts about his religion. This brought something else to my attention: Blaise hadn’t discussed his zealous beliefs with anyone lately! Why had he stopped trying to convert everyone he stumbled across? I couldn’t focus on that topic for too much of a stretch though since my mom served our entrées. “Mmm! It smells so-.” I took a whiff of the air, and then I couldn’t praise how yummy it smelled because I detected Blaise’s foul aroma again! Phoebe suddenly brought up, “Hey Blaise, maybe you left your lighter in the truck.”
“I’ll be right back!” Blaise announced as he got off of his seat and headed outside.
“So, he seems… colorful!” my mother conferred when he was well out of earshot.
Miriam shrugged in a fairly morose fashion. “I was never any good at picking out men. I’m glad I didn’t pass that trait on to my daughter! It looks like she did pretty well!” She shot me a timidly friendly glance, and I felt flattered! With how often their presence caused me distress, I never paused to consider whether or not I met their approval! Even though Miriam hadn’t had a strong relationship with Phoebe throughout her adult life, it was nice to have the reassurance that someone in her family favored our union! Not that her father and stepmother didn’t delight in us being together, it’s just always gratifying to hear each instance of individuals in her lineage who are fond of our couple-hood!
My mom merrily chimed, “We’d like to think so too!” Both of my folks beamed at us, and it was hard to not feel a little flustered by their acclaim! At least until my mother followed that with, “So, when are you two gonna give us some grandkids?”
“Uh…” Phoebe failed to come up with a response as I chocked on the bite in my mouth! Don’t worry, I recovered quickly! Physically anyways… I was struggling to successfully propose to my girlfriend, so the concept of having a baby hadn’t even crossed my mind! Of course, I wanted to eventually, but the huge leap from trying to get married to raising children overwhelmed me quite a bit!
“Oh, they haven’t had a chance to conceive any while we’ve been around! We gotta use the toilet in their bedroom ‘cause the guest one is… out of order, so it ain’t happening ‘til we finally get the heck out of their hair!” Miriam relayed to them, thank goodness! She really came to our rescue right there! Especially on my behalf since I didn’t know how I would reply to her without giving away my romantic intentions! It wouldn’t have been so terrible to pop the question in front of the parental units, but I didn’t’ want to do it in such an inelegant approach! And our discomfort would only get enhanced upon Blaise’s return! At that moment, it registered to me that he had yet to come back into the house, which I found a little strange but not unusual enough for me to want to know what he was doing out there!
After a small bout of silence, I broke the ice by pondering, “So, Dad, how are your golf skills coming along?” That move kept the conversation going in full swing! My father prattled on and on about his stories from the greens, and even though my mother didn’t appreciate this content much (she heard all of his tales a million times before this evening!), I was relieved that our dining experience had not flopped as I fretted it would! A huge reason for that was due to Blaise’s absence. Naturally, we all identified that he never rejoined us, but no one appeared particularly alarmed by this development. Blaise’s eccentricity made him very unpredictable, so we did not grow anxious over his disappearance until we realized that we went the entire supper without him resurfacing…
Phoebe complimented my parents, “That was a delicious dish, Doctor and Missus Fenmore!”
“If you like it, I’ll give you the recipe!” My mom pulled out her phone and began searching through it. “Hang on! I know the restaurant we bought it from has a copycat version somewhere…”
“No, Jett!” I corrected my cat as she jumped onto Blaise’s chair with her snout close to his portion of the cuisine.
Miriam dissented on my verdict, “Oh, please! If he’s still hungry when he gets in, it wouldn’t bother him at all to share a plate with an animal! It’s not like it would be the first occasion he did that!”
As my dad brought the dinnerware into the kitchen, he peeked out the front window and observed, “Well, that fellow doesn’t appear to be outside at all!”
“Is his ugly, old truck still there?” I asked him. Privately, I relished the notion of him taking off without a goodbye! It would have been delightful to never have him darken our doorstep anymore!
‘That’s his vehicle? I assumed it belonged to that abandoned property across the street!” My mom gazed out the window and disclosed, “Yeah, it’s still there!”
It sort of annoyed me to contemplate that perhaps his well-being was at risk right then! I expected to, at long last, decompress after we ate, but now we had to put in the extra effort of locating him! I sincerely hoped that he hadn’t faked an urgent dilemma only to garner some attention! I wouldn’t have put it past him! I petitioned my folks, “Mom and dad, can you check the area on your way back to your car?”
They agreed to it, and then Phoebe spotted an object of interest on the end table by the hall. “He left his cellphone here. I’m gonna see if he left any clues there!”
I advised Miriam, “We should go see if he gave us any hints in your room.”
As Miriam trailed me there, she anxiously stated, “He’s not gonna like us invading his privacy!”
“Too bad! Then he should’ve returned sooner!” I retorted. He had all of his various belongings strewed throughout the space, so I rifled through it all one by one. Most of it looked like garbage to me- old bottles, rocks, random spices and herbs… I was about to cut my losses until I ran into an aged piece of paper… Curious, I read it, and when I discovered its contents, I roared, “Damn it, Blaise! Ugh, Miriam, if your husband isn’t dead, I’m gonna kill him!”
“Okay!” Miriam reacted with total indifference.
Phoebe showed up in the doorway, so angrily revealed to her, “Blaise did the spell that opened up the window to the Netherworld! He’s the cause all of this shit with Damon is happening!’ I turned to Miriam and queried, “Why? Why would he do this?”
Miriam confessed, “He’s always dabbled in magic. That’s one of the reasons I stayed with him- I wanted to watch over the other people in the cult. You’d be shocked by how dangerous some of these hexes can be! Well, maybe you wouldn’t…”
Before I could rage further about this revelation, Phoebe articulated, “If he poses a threat to his devotees, then the students of the FAUK club are in mortal peril! I just figured out who their mysterious leader is…”