Unless my computer’s clock is lying to me, it is just a wee bit past midnight as I post this and that of course means I’m posting a tad bit late (though with the wonderful existence of time zones, I’m still on time or even early somewhere…just not where I live). 1,000 apologies and one huge hug for my lateness – or one apology and 1,000 hugs, take your pick. Either way, please enjoy this late Saturday/early, early Sunday snippet!
Aaron’s kitchen table now beheld both the oddest assortment of guests seated around it and likely the greatest range of emotions it had ever seen as well. From Aaron’s own fear still nearly powerful enough to bolt him out of his chair to the combination of relief and confusion felt by V, Deigen, and Seth. In between these somewhat extremes rested Raynerus’ own easy-going cheerfulness that one would not expect someone to have given the rather unusual circumstances.
“So Aaron,” Raynerus paused just long enough to take another sip of his carrot juice, “how’s the filling doing?”
“Just fine, thank you very much for asking.” Aaron spoke so quickly that the few words he’d uttered out nearly sounded like one of those single musical multiple syllable ones in a foreign language that only a native tongue can properly dance with.
Deigen leaned slightly over the table toward his former king and friend. “Eh, Raynerus, everyone thought you’d perished with that great explosion or whatever it was back when you shattered the stone puzzle. Your sister was the one who figured out that you must have made your way to this place but,” he waved a hand toward Aaron, “how did you find yourself employed as a dentist?”
“I’ve had many occupations since my arrival here.” Raynerus refilled his own glass with more carrot juice from a flask he carried with him. “When I first arrived, and after figuring out that I was quite far away from home, a traveling circus became my first employer. First group of friends here really and perhaps the perfect lot for me to have found for they were largely all considered freaks like me.” Raynerus stood from his chair and gave a slight bow. “I was the albino walrus man of course and then there—
“Albino walrus man?” V huffed. “But that’s not what you were at all, you were a vampire who—
“Who didn’t exactly fit the image of what a vampire is supposed to look like for everyone here apparently so I went with the title the circus gave me and happily made it my own.” Raynerus stood up out of his bow and crossed his arms at V. “If you can rudely interrupt me then it’s only fair play for me to the do the same. Now if you don’t mind though, I’d like to finish where I was before you did so?” He waited for an apologetic nod from V before continuing. “And then there was the bearded woman, her husband the strongman, and a whole gang of other wonderful people that became my second family. But being a vampire rather than a walrus man, I unfortunately outlived every one of them and the traveling circus itself. Work was a little harder to come by after that, what with having canines the length of steak knives and the complexion of a glass of milk. And being a wererabbit to top it all off, I simply couldn’t trust myself around any farmer’s field of delectable vegetables near a full moon. But,” he plopped back down in his chair and took a gulp of carrot juice, “I still had two pieces of that stone puzzle with me at the time and I knew that as long as they were with me then the Keepers wouldn’t be able to put it back together.”
“But those must be the two pieces that came from this world back home then,” said Seth. The zombie tilted his head toward Aaron. “One of them sent his friend Ian there and the other was in the possession of a young woman named Sylvia.”
Deigen snapped his fingers. “Ah yes, and her grandfather was the one who stumbled into our land with it.”
Raynerus raised a brow. “You don’t say? Hmm, and I’d just as well assumed those two pieces were both never to found again. Well, at least I know what finally became of them after I lost them in the shipwreck.”
“Shipwreck?” All three monsters asked in unison, causing Aaron to look around as if he’d missed some unspoken cue.
“Yes, yes the blasted shipwreck,” groaned Raynerus. “My initial plan was to remain in these fair lands until I’d had chance to complete my own stone puzzle and then use those two fragments I had to get back home. But since I feared destroying anyone’s farm if remaining on land, I sought the sea for my next job and served as a crew member on quite a few ships for a while. In time, I came to find myself on board the Trade Wind. Fine ship, wonderful crew all around.” He let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. “But neither of that stood a chance against that snow storm we found ourselves in and colliding with another ship while on our way to Chicago back in 1853. The Trade Wind’s only lifeboat was actually destroyed in the collision before the ship itself began to sink. Our cargo of cast iron stoves and iron all went down to the bottom of the sea, along with those two puzzle pieces which I guess I hadn’t tucked into my shirt pocket as well as I thought.” [Author’s note – some things you just can’t make up. Click on the highlighted link to learn a little more about the real Trade Wind shipwreck].
“But,” Aaron leaned in this time, seeming to have overcome his fear for a brief moment, “you survived that obviously. How?”
“Ah,” Raynerus raised his glass in a toast fashion. “Our cargo also happened to include two brand new lifeboats that we were taking to Chicago. Myself and all the other members of the crew were able to hop in those beauties and keep from joining the stoves and iron.”
“It seems you managed to lose your teeth over time as well.” Deigen cocked his head at Raynerus. “I’m sure you managed that brawny skin with a bit of simple magic but even your sister has never been able to hide the teeth. How did you manage having those normal looking ones?”
“The same way this lad Aaron knows me.” Raynerus shrugged, “I happened to become good friends with a dentist and he was kind enough to replace my less desirable teeth with two very nice implants. I became intrigued with his work after that, ending a toothache or pulling two fangs out seemed like magic even to me. And so eventually, I decided became a dentist myself.” He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out two frighteningly long canines. “But I kept the old teeth for good luck though, see?”
Aaron made a sour face at the teeth now adorning the center of his kitchen table. “You keep your old vampire teeth in your pocket for good luck? Isn’t that a little silly?” His frown became longer at inspecting them further. “And they both still have crusted up blood and junk from where you pulled them, gross!”
Raynerus snorted a chuckle while returning the canines back to his pocket. “Well, apologies for just tossing them on your table but I would say carrying them around is no more silly or gross than how some of you people carry a poor rabbit’s foot around with you.”