Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Once Upon a Time... (Part 1)

...there was a beautiful maiden who came to live in an ancient hovel in the malodorous kingdom of Skyline, Mississippi. This was an odd place for this particular maiden to be found, as she had grown up in the distant land of Alaska, but the tale of how she came to be in Mississippi, while a good one, is not today’s story. Let us suffice to say that the maiden was in Skyline due to its proximity to Tupelo where she was finishing up her undergraduate apprenticeship in the healing arts of medical technology. One of the maiden’s fellow apprentices happened to mention one day that a friend of her husband was about to relocate to the Tupelo area where he was to use his golden voice to earn a living as a town crier in the industry called the Casting of Broad, or radio. And because the job of town crier paid startlingly little money, he was in search of cheap lodging. Very cheap. The maiden, in turn, mentioned that her particular hovel was very cheap to live in and rather cozy if you could overlook the fact that it had no heating to speak of, was forever on the verge of collapse, and was probably held together by the sheer adhesive power of roach droppings within the walls. Furthermore, it had a set of rooms for rent.

Within days the scribe himself had not only come to Tupelo to see the rooms in question, but he had secured lodging within them for himself and his cat. And soon after this, the maiden met the scribe for the very first time. He was a handsome fellow and she noted that he did indeed have a golden voice. She even helped him move his belongings into his rooms within the hovel and the two became friends. Soon their friendship turned to adoration, though neither would admit it even to themselves. It was a dangerous thing to adore someone when you knew you would soon be parted. For, you see, the maiden was only living in Skyline temporarily and was to be called away to the distant land of the Carolina of the North after her undergraduate apprenticeship was concluded.

The day they parted was a sad one, but Carolina of the North beckoned. They cried tears, hugged and promised to keep in touch. It did not take long for them to begin calling one another. It took even less time to start missing one another. Within months they made plans for the scribe to come and see the maiden. And so their courtship began. And thus a hellish year and a half was spent courting from 600 miles apart. Eventually, the pull of their love drew them together and the scribe left Skyline and Tupelo behind to join his betrothed in the Carolina of the North where the two were wed and the maiden at last became his goodly wife. The scribe returned to being town crier, albeit in a much bigger town. He also took a job in a call-center for the Star of “On”, because town crier still paid for shit.

Though the goodly wife had previously taken work as a technologist of medicine, her true goal was to return to a school of the healing arts in an effort to become a skilled healer herself. Unfortunately, her applications to schools in the Carolina of the North were rejected for two years straight. It wasn’t until her third year of application that she was finally accepted—not in the Carolina of the North, but in the not-too-distant province of the Virginia of the West. Though it meant their lives would be upheaved once again, the two of them gathered their few possessions and their cat and made the journey to this new and mountainous land. They settled in a collection of three small villages that together made one decent sized village, which was dubbed Tri-Metro.

While the goodly wife began her studies, the scribe sought to employ himself as a town crier in his new town as well. Alas, there were no crier’s guild or casting of broad stations that could employ live criers. It was a canned town, as they say. His golden voice would have to rest. Instead, the scribe instead took work as an apprentice to the local knowledge-keepers guild—or, as Saint Carolla once described it, the place where they hide the books. There he did labor for three years before deciding that the stories about the people he encountered during the course of his labor were too good not to chronicle. And so the scribe set about to do this on a near daily basis, amassing a tremendous amount of the stories which he shared with other people through the use of the web of the whole wide world. Such online scribing was called “blogging” and his blog was called Tales from the Place Where They Hide the Books. Many people enjoyed his stories and told him so. Other people were assholes. But write the tales he did for five more years.The scribe and his goodly wife found that they loved the Tri-Metro area, and the Virginia of the West as a whole. They had not initially planned to remain there beyond her studies, but had long since decided that it was a beautiful place to live their lives. They made friends and colleagues in their area and began making plans to remain there forever.

At the end of their first seven years in Tri-Metro, the goodly wife had secured a degree in her studies and had completed three years of apprenticeship in the healing arts. And after a fiery trial at the hands of the high lords of healing, she was given the freedom to go into the world and practice the healing arts with no supervision as a full-fledged healer. However, when it came time to decide what to do, the major opportunity to practice her healing arts came not in Tri-Metro but in a not-too-distant township on the border of their province and that of an adjacent province. This “Borderland” was where she could best practice her art. And, according to the healing guildmaster’s recruiter there, wouldn’t even have to work that hard to do it. She’d have PLENTY of time to spend with her family, because the Place of Healing would never seek to overwork the shit out of their healers. Nosir. She wouldn’t be spending ALL of her time in the hospital. Don’t even think of it. Even after all of their assurances, the goodly wife warned her recruiter that she had no intention of spending all waking hours at the Place of Healing. Their promises sounded fine, but if they turned out not to be true she would have no problem walking. They said she had nothing to worry about.

Because the goodly wife’s art earned their household far more money than the scribe earned by working in the place where they hide the books, the scribe left the knowledge guild and ended Tales from the Place Where They Hide the Books. Oh, he tried to continue chronicling his life in this new Land on the Border, but mostly this involved talking about the repairs they were doing to their new castle and complaining about people parking like assholes at the Mart of Wals. Over the coming months, he missed his days at the place where they hide the books, and the plentiful nature of his scribing life back then. He missed his friends and colleagues and the creative opportunities Tri-Metro offered.

The goodly wife (Dr. Goodly Wife) labored for the Place of Healing for two years. During that time, her knowledge base expanded quite a bit, especially when it came to recognizing members of the species of shape-shifting phalluses that ran the place. (They had only one eye, but often two faces.) She also learned much of the arcane language of contracts, which can seem to mean one thing, but be interpreted to mean something different. (For instance, the contract wording which, on the surface, promised a healthy annual student loan repayment bonus, but, upon clarification by the shape-shifting phalluses, actually meant that while they did have to pay her this bonus, they could then charge the cost of the bonus back to the goodly wife’s clinic and thus charge her own bonus back to her. Nice. What a bunch of dicks.) Furthermore, all of the recruiter’s promises of few late hours turned out to be as solid as the shit of a horse, for the Place of Healing and the shifty phalluses that ran it kept coming up with new and inventive ways to keep the goodly wife within their clutches as much as possible. They even added call to the existing arseload of call she was already saddled with. So at the end of her first two years, the Dr. Wife kept her promise, said "F*ck all ya'll" and left (after her contractual 90 days notice, of course, and just after the second annual student loan repayment bonus had been delivered—“Charge that one back to me, you f*ckers! I don’t work here anymore!”).

The other major reason that the goodly wife had departed the employment of the phalluses, is that she had found a new place to practice the healing arts. A friend of the goodly wife’s from her time of study had alerted her to this new place of healing—a place designed to see people in immediate need of healing with little to no patient followup required, not to mention NO CALL TIME WHATSOEVER. The friend herself worked for a similar Immediate Healing Clinic two towns over, but was soon going to depart her own clinic in favor of a third Immediate Healing Clinic that was being readied back in Tri-Metro. The Borderland Immediate Healing Clinic was a Godsend. And while its shifts were not short ones, it required only 14 of them per month. The goodly wife would finally be able to help those in immediate need and send them on their way with none of the usual hassle. It was pretty ideal.

Secretly, though, the scribe hoped that at some point in the not too distant future a position would open at the Tri-Metro Immediate Healing Clinic that the goodly wife could transfer into. He longed to return to his beloved township.


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