Jim could barely sit up. There had been gravy….with a side of gravy…dipped in venison and lard. He had to go outside with a mug of coffee to keep from falling asleep. The cool evening and the swaying trees were bracing. And each sip of the bold black liquid helped restore his verve.
Elsa and Germain were in the center of the meadow. The elder was gesturing heavenward with his arms in a slow methodical sort of way. Though he couldn’t hear them and they were blanketed in darkness Jim thought he saw Elsa nodding along.
His curiosity sufficiently peaked, he set off in their direction. The odd pair were further than he had guessed, and he was winded by the time he reached them. Neither turned as the old man continued pointing and speaking in a low accented voice.
Elsa was indeed nodding along as she asked questions in what Jim guessed to be French. Now that he was close he followed the elder’s pointing up to the target.
A chill ran down his spine.
It was the very same cluster of stars he’d seen that night he got paralyzed on the granite. Though he didn’t know the name he’d remembered his boyhood visits to the cottage. Visits where Hant would point at this ‘the archer’ the ‘town hall of the galaxy.’
Jim was frightfully curious now. Both as to why everybody was so fixated with this southern cluster and as to how exactly Elsa had gotten that wheelchair so far over all this thick tall grass.
“Stargazing?” He inquired.
She turned round lightly and blew him a kiss. “Yes, izn’t eet wanderful!”
“Meh, I guess,” Jim responded. “But, if I’m being completely honest I’ve kinda had it with stars out here. There’s too many and they seem too bright, too close. It’s like being stuck up heaven’s asshole.”
Elsa laughed good-naturedly.
German could not turn his wheelchair and opted to instead mutter something in French.
“I thought you were a kraut broad?”
“Dee French border iz not far frohm Hesse.”
“Don’t you Eurodorks know that the only language worth talkin’ is God’s own English.”
Elsa stuck out her tongue.
“I can speak the language of dogs perfectly.” The oldster retorted in cut-glass poshness. “I’d simply prefer not to contort such a noble instrument as the human tongue into such barbaric positions.”
“Another feisty Boomer?” Jim rolled his eyes.
“No, you arrogant little Anglo fool, I may well have sired your grandfather.”
“…uh…so we’re related?”
Elsa laughed. “Nein, at least I don’t dink so…” she said turning Germain’s chair to face them. “The doktor has been leeving very long and is very wize. You must heer heem. He will helf you.”
“Ok, so what’s up with these stars Doc? Hant was crazy about ’em.”
Germain nodded. “That is Saggitarius.”
“Afraid I don’t take much stock in that astrology shit.”
“This is astronomy you mealy-brained Paddy. Astronomy that will be your undoing unless you learn it.”
“Rather be a Mick than a Frog.”
Elsa shook her head.
“I’m about to let you on something that won’t be revealed for several decades. I have every right to tease you.”
“Fine by me, so long as I get to tease back.”
The elder ignored this repartee.
“Saggitarius is located near the center of our galaxy. Near the border of Saggitarius and Scorpius there is a black hole.”
“Ok. That’s pretty sci-fi.”
“The cliche is true. Fact is stranger than fiction. This currently theoretical construct is the highway by which your little friends travel. Or rather the mechanism…”
“Neat, so how does all this work and uh…more importantly what the fuck are they…?”
“That is a very long story and I am very cold. So we’ll have to continue this indoors.”
Elsa got behind the wheelchair-bound elder and began to push him effortlessly over the uneven ground.
Jim grabbed the back of the chair. “Hold on. How the hell…”
“Elsa get this baboon off my damned throne.”
He was completely disarmed by the sensation of soft fingers tickling his kneck and warm whispers caressing his ears. “Heel tell you soon…just letuz got noaw.”
“I’ll tell him now!” The old man exploded. “You have to dumb things down for his lot so it won’t take long. It’s coated in a polymer…o wait that’s a bit too difficult…I’m sorry….it’s magic WD-40!”
“See, that’s all I wanted.” Jim responded.
“Yes, now that this bog breathing alleycats base curiosity is sated CAN WE PLEASE GO INSIDE..”
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